How to Use Air Quality Maps to Check the Air Pollution Around You
“Almost no one is safe from air pollution.”—Air quality professor, Dr. Yuming Guo.
In a recent study, Guo and his team reported that 99% of the world’s population is breathing unhealthy levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5). This is a significant discovery, as exposure to PM2.5 can lead to serious health problems, including cardiovascular diseases, pulmonary disorders, and cancer.
But that doesn't mean you're completely defenseless against air pollution.
Air quality technology has progressed immensely, now it’s easier to stay on top of poor air quality. One way is by using air quality maps. With air quality maps, you can identify ambient air quality levels in an area and make informed decisions about your outdoor activities or travel plans.
What is an Air Quality Map?
Air quality maps gather air quality data from across the globe and visualize it as a map. By using them, it’s easier to know the air quality levels of a specific location. The best ones will update the data frequently, so you can see air quality in real time as it changes.
Thanks to the increase of commercial and residential air quality monitors, scientists have more accurate data to better understand air quality. Additionally, the public can learn more about air pollution and take proactive steps to mitigate it. It can also help policymakers and industry leaders find more effective solutions to improving air quality.
How to Use Air Quality Map
Using an air quality map varies depending on the type of map. Some are air quality apps you can download, while others are accessed on a website.
Despite these, there are common methods for checking air quality:
- Colors for the Air Quality Index (AQI). Air quality maps use different colors to indicate the air quality. For example, places with good air quality are marked green. And those with unhealthy or hazardous AQI are dark colors like red or purple. Some maps also use more accessible colors as well!
- Conversions. Good air quality maps also allow you to convert the data into the AQI scale relevant to your country, since not all are the same.
- Easy search. Some air quality maps provide a search bar. Thus, you can just type the city name instead of manually finding it on the map.
Top 5 Best Air Quality Maps Features
More and more free air quality maps are popping up these days. But how do you know which ones are credible and accurate? We’ve made it easy for you here to vet them. Here are 5 features of some of the best interactive air quality maps:
#1 Shows Real-Time Data
Studies have shown that short-term exposure to air pollution can have lasting impacts on your health. That’s why having a real-time air quality map can be lifesaving. With it, you can check the current air quality levels and take immediate action to reduce your exposure to poor air quality.
#2 Provides Comprehensive Coverage
High-quality air quality maps are high-density and have thousands of monitors. This means you have a lot more data points to work with. They also provide a breakdown of air quality data in addition to AQI. This means that they also display measurements of particulate matter, humidity, temperature, and so on.
In addition to all of these, the best air quality maps provide historical data and data layering, so you can analyze trends over time.
#3 Trusted by Experts
There’s no better proof of a good air quality map than when experts use them. So, look for an air quality map that has been used or even endorsed by scientists, researchers, organizations, and other professionals.
Pro Tip: Check if established journals and universities use the air quality map in their papers. You can also look at the map’s website to see if they have any accreditations.
#4 Seamless Air Quality Monitor Integration
By having an air quality monitor that connects with air quality maps, you can better see the air quality in your home and neighborhood. Not only that, but you’re also helping your community as the data from your air quality monitor will help provide more accurate hyper-local information.
#5 Easy-to-Use Interface
The last thing you would want is a confusing user interface with too much information on one screen. Instead, look for an interactive air quality map that provides a simple yet informative, user interface.
On the PurpleAir Map, for example, it has a dropdown menu. That way, you can look at more detailed air quality data. At the same time, it is strategically located, so it doesn't interfere with your user experience.
Air Quality Maps You Trust
Air quality maps are convenient ways of checking air pollution in any location. But not all air quality maps are the same. Always check if it provides real-time data, comprehensive coverage, seamless integration to your air quality monitor, and easy-to-use interface. This way, you know you’re looking at an accurate and high-quality air quality map.
Worried about your 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.