There is no concrete answer for how your city’s air quality fairs. Air pollution is dynamic and can change in as little as a few minutes based on weather patterns, polluting sources, human behavior, and other variables. As a result, real-time air pollution data and awareness is critical to protecting yourself from adverse effects.
By enabling location services and notifications on the AirVisual app, you can rest assured you are always informed of pollution spikes, wherever you are.
Short term health effects of breathing polluted air include:
+ Irritation of the eyes, throat, and nose
+ Wheezing, coughing and asthma attacks
+ Chest tightness and chest pain
+ Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing
+ Irregular heartbeats
+ Pain during deep breaths
+ Inflammation of the lung lining and increased respiratory discomfort
Long term health effects of prolonged exposure can include cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, decreased lung function, cancer, and premature death.
Everyone is at risk of breathing harmful air pollution on a daily basis - whether indoors or out.
Air quality can quickly reach unhealthy levels in our daily activities of cooking, cleaning, and driving or biking in traffic. In a new air quality model released by The World Health Organization, it is estimated that 92% of our globe’s population is currently breathing unsafe, polluted air.
There are six key pollutants which are frequently measured by government monitoring stations, and used to calculate overall AQI. These pollutants include: PM2.5, PM10, carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and ground level ozone (O3).
Of these six key pollutants, generally PM2.5, PM10 and Ozone are the most likely to reach unhealthy levels.
PM2.5 is generally the most prevalent pollutant present at harmful levels. It's near microscopic size means that it is so small it can be absorbed into the bloodstream upon inhalation - causing a variety of effects on a number of organs. For this reason, PM2.5 is most often the “main pollutant” in the air, dictating overall AQI.
Sometimes in hot summer months, however, Ozone will be the main pollutant. Meanwhile in particularly sandy or dusty places, PM10 will be the main pollutant.
AQI, or Air Quality Index, is a system for translating sometimes confusing or unintuitive pollutant concentration measurements, into one easy-to-understand scale to clearly represent the health risk posed by air pollution. The index formula usually considers up to 6 main pollutants (PM2.5, PM10, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and ground level ozone), and calculates the respective health risk (or AQI number) for each one. The overall AQI number at a given moment is dictated by the "riskiest" pollutant, with the highest AQI number.
The index ranges from 0 to 500, where high index values indicate higher levels of air pollution and higher potential for adverse health effects. Any value larger than 300, for example, is considered to be hazardous, while an AQI value of 0-50, on the other hand, represents good air quality.
Each AQI value corresponds to a given color, icon and recommendation. We use the US EPA standard:
0-50, “Good” - Air quality is satisfactory and poses little or no health risk.
51-100, “Moderate” - Air quality poses little health risk. Sensitive groups may experience respiratory symptoms.
101-150, “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” - General public and sensitive individuals in particular are at risk to experience irritation and respiratory problems.
151-200, “Unhealthy” - Increased likelihood of adverse effects and aggravation to heart and lungs among general public, particularly sensitive groups.
201-300, “Very Unhealthy” - General public will be noticeably affected. Sensitive groups will experience reduced endurance in activities.
301-500+, “Hazardous” - General public and sensitive groups are at high risk to experience strong irritations and adverse health effects that could trigger other illnesses.
Living in a polluted environment can be challenging. However, it is perfectly possible to breathe world-class, healthy air even in a polluted city as long as you take the right precautions to protect yourself. Here are our top 3 tips:
- Maintain excellent indoor air quality - We generally spend 80+% of our time indoors. As a result, maintaining premium indoor air quality is of utmost importance. Use an air monitor to ensure your indoor air quality is always in the “green” and run an air purifier when air quality exceeds standards.
- Follow outdoor readings & take action: Keep an eye on otherwise invisible outdoor air pollution with the AirVisual app. Set alerts to notify you when air quality becomes unhealthy, and follow the recommendations to reduce your exposure.
- Plan ahead to avoid outdoor pollution - Use AirVisual’s air quality forecast to optimize outdoor activities and home ventilation for the healthiest times.