10 Fun Facts About Air Quality

Air Quality in a mountain range

When it comes to facts about air quality, there are a lot of facts out there that will surprise you. So we’ve rounded up a list of the 10 most interesting facts about air quality.

The truth is, when it comes to the dissemination of knowledge, sometimes there is a gap between academic research and public knowledge. We’re seeking to bridge that gap by cultivating a society of community scientists, researchers, and everyone who cares about air quality.

Now, here is a list of 10 interesting air quality facts you might not know. Let’s dive right in.

#1 – In 1970, the U.S. passed the Clean Air Act to focus on national air quality standards.

In the United States, air pollution became a serious concern when a deadly haze covered Donora, Pennsylvania. After researchers made the connection between pollution and public health, policymakers knew something had to be done. So, the Clean Air Act was passed and has saved thousands of lives to date.

#2 – China's fighting air quality by installing monitors all over the country.

Leading up to the 2008 Olympics, officials were concerned about the air quality in China and how it might affect international athletes. Just before the event, short terms changes like removing 300,000 vehicles and closing a few factories helped reduce air pollution.

Now, China is doing a lot more. They’re helping fight air pollution by reducing agricultural burning and tripling the number of federal monitoring stations from 661 to 1,800.

#3 – Finland is the country with the best air quality on the planet.

Everyone wants to live somewhere clean and safe. And when it comes to air quality, Finland has the best overall. When measuring air pollution, researchers found that Finland has the lowest PM2.5 concentrations of all developed nations. If you need a breath of fresh air—you know where to go.

#4 – The air in our atmosphere protects us from meteors.

The air on Earth does just help sustain life on Earth, it also protects us from cosmic events like meteorites. The atmosphere, or more specifically, the mesosphere has high-pressure air that causes meteors to burn up before hitting the Earth.

#5 – The mayor of London planted 7000 trees to improve air quality in 2020.

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, declared the city was determined to fight air pollution and reduce CO2 by planting more trees. About 7000 more trees in fact. They received over 2 million pounds from the Forestry Commission to fund the project, and it’s a great step towards making greener, more sustainable cities.

#6 – Using public transportation reduces air pollution.

At the start of 2004, the population in Milan went on strike and shut down all public transportation. Without Milan’s public transportation system, air quality got much worse. Just as you might expect, forcing more commuters to use their cars was bad for the environment.

So, next time you use the bus, you can feel good knowing you’re helping improve the air quality.

#7 – During the COVID pandemic, air quality improved around the world.

The pandemic caused a lot of problems, from millions of hospitalizations to global supply chain issues. However, it did do one more thing. Because there were fewer people on the road and less traffic, vehicle emissions were much lower. As a result, air quality improved all across the globe according to the United Nations.

#8 – Anywhere from 50 to 80% of the oxygen on Earth comes from our ocean.

What’s better to put in your backyard, a tree or a pond full of algae? While most of us think about trees when it comes to what produces the most oxygen, that’s not the only plant working hard. Algae is a massive contributor to the oxygen in our atmosphere.

These oceanic plankton are some of the smallest photosynthetic organisms on our planet—but they’re making a huge difference.

#9 – The US’s air quality trends have improved nationwide in the past four decades.

Looking for some good news? Well, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been monitoring air quality for the last 40 years. And they’ve said that things are looking up. While it varies by location, air quality has been improving overall across the country.

#10 – You can protect yourself by checking the air quality in your community and avoiding the outdoors when the air is high risk.

Finally, another fact is that by monitoring the air quality in your area, you can make better decisions to protect your health. People who check the air quality with air quality monitors or data from tools like the real-time PurpleAir Map, can use that information to stay inside when it’s safer.

Air quality is an important topic, and while air pollution is dangerous—there are still countries and communities doing their best to fight it.

We also hope we’ve inspired you to take a closer look at the air quality in your area and take steps to improve it. Whether that means using public transportation, carpooling, or investing in an air quality monitor like PurpleAir, every bit helps.

Worried About Air Quality?

Monitor the Particulate Matter levels around the world with our free, real-time PurpleAir Map or join PurpleAir's mission to make air quality data accessible to everyone by investing in an air quality monitor for your home. 

Together, we can be informed and make changes in our daily habits and the community to improve air quality.