How Communities & Businesses Are Using Air Quality Technology During Wildfires

Do you know how many wildfires happen in the US each year?

According to the EPA, there are an average of 70,000 wildfires—and that’s just one country. All over the world, many communities are experiencing longer and harsher fire seasons and the harsh impacts of reduced air quality for extended periods of time.

Thankfully, air quality monitoring is helping these communities better monitor their air pollution.

In today’s blog, we’re looking at how new, affordable, and highly precise air quality monitors have become available for anyone to use. Then, we’ll look at real-life examples where businesses have been using these air quality monitors for all kinds of projects.

The Rise of Low-Cost Air Quality Monitors

Air quality monitoring has been taking place since the early days of coal mining when they used canaries to detect air quality. When air quality monitoring became more prevalent in big cities, the monitors were bulky, expensive, and not always that accurate.

In the last several years, air quality monitors have become more affordable, therefore, more accessible. More community scientists are getting involved in air quality research with the help of PurpleAir air quality monitors or using our air quality data.

For example, our PurpleAir Zen is the latest air quality monitor designed to give you peace of mind—whether you’re using it for your home, office, or research project.

PurpleAir Zen Monitor

If you live in an area prone to wildfires, you want as much warning as you can get. The PurpleAir Zen is our latest air quality monitor measuring real-time PM2.5 concentrations. And it’s not just for individual use, each air quality monitor owned by a local business or community member helps contribute to the available data on our PurpleAir Map.

Some other features include:

  • Built in full color LED ring so it’s easy to see your air quality across the room based on the color of the light, as well as a tap sensor to adjust the brightness.
  • Versatile mounting hardware so it can be used indoors and out with the included desktop or wall (or pole) mount.
  • Pressure, Temperature, Humidity & Gas Sensor which is also helpful for people who connect PurpleAir monitors to their home automation apps.
  • Built-in SD card which allows you to log information for offline data capture.
  • WiFi connectivity so that data is stored in the cloud and added to the PurpleAir Map in real time.

The PurpleAir Map is a web application that displays a network of community-owned, PurpleAir sensors which each upload data to the PurpleAir map in real time. With the PurpleAir Map, anyone can see their city’s air quality in real-time.

Community members can also easily download historical air quality data for research projects.

How Businesses Are Using PurpleAir During Wildfire Season

Today, there are plenty of new solutions to seeing your air quality, and PurpleAir is just one of them. Even National Geographic reported on how more residential monitors are being used to help fire-struck communities.

In 2020, a group of academic researchers in Los Angeles also wondered how the city of LA could better monitor particulate matter in local neighborhoods hourly. Historically, the challenge in getting this information was that government air quality monitors were too sparse and residential air quality monitors were too costly or inaccurate.

However, with the increased use and affordability of air quality monitors like PurpleAir, they found they could gain better up-to-date data when used in combination with local monitoring systems used by other agencies. Additionally, they concluded that the increased use of PurpleAir monitors was a giant step towards empowering community scientists.

This type of community involvement also has the potential to have a positive impact on emergency services during wildfires. For example, firefighters used PurpleAir monitors during wildfires to determine where to set up temporary monitoring for particulate matter. This gave them more insight into the air quality during wildfires in real-time, giving them better data to make informed safety decisions for local communities.

We hope more cities and communities are inspired to invest in air quality technology or using the PurpleAir Map to see their city’s air quality in real-time.

Connect With PurpleAir

At PurpleAir, there are tons of organizations around the world using our data—from Google to the EPA. We’re thrilled to see research projects like this, and we look forward to seeing plenty more in the future.

Are you a technology company or institution looking to work with PurpleAir?

We’d love to connect and see how we can help you. Whether you’re interested in our air quality monitors or using our air quality data for your projects, feel free to reach out.