Do you still know the air quality today? How is air quality measured? Free applications for smartphones and numerous websites provide information on the Air Quality Index (AQI) to optimise travel, particularly by bicycle. Make the invisible visible. Monitor the main air pollutants, in particular fine particles PM2.5, PM10 and the main gaseous pollutants Ozone, NO2, CO2 and SO2.
How air quality is monitored ?
Several factors determine the air quality of an area. Together, these elements combine to form an almost universal metric called the Air Quality Index (AQI). The AQI for a specific location depends on characteristics such as the time of day, the concentration of pollutants and the type of pollutants in the air.
Since there is a time factor involved, the AQI is generally grouped into ranges. Each of these ranges is assigned a descriptor, a colour code and a standardised public health opinion such as Good, Fair, Poor, Unhealthy and others.
What applications of air quality monitoring ?
There are really a lot of application to monitor air quality, here are some of the most famous
This application claims to have the largest air quality database in the world
The AirVisual tool combines data sets from government agencies, AirVisual sensors and satellite imagery to provide the most comprehensive picture of the world’s air quality, country by country, city by city, in real time and with a 7-day forecast.
An alert system sends you a notification when the outdoor air quality does not meet your criteria.
By ordering a sensor, the application also provides information on the air quality inside your home.
Plume labs, a French application, provides fairly detailed real-time data on pollution levels in many French cities. It shows the ozone levels and compares them with the annual average and the days of pollution peaks. The user can thus find out whether the pollution detected is exceptional or whether it is finally in the average of other days.
The interest of Plume labs is also to give recommendations. A small slider allows you to navigate through the hours of the day to find out whether it is a good idea to cycle, jog or even sit on a terrace.
It also provides pollution alerts via notifications and air quality reports.
Plume also markets a handheld sensor. It offers the most accurate readings and updates per minute. Plus, you can pair it with your phone to check the quality wherever you are.
This is the application of Airparif, the organisation responsible of air quality monitoring in Paris area. Itiner’AIR tool allows you to calculate your route on foot, by bike or by running and to identify pollution zones on the map. The user can see in real time what he is exposed to and, if necessary, adjust his route to reduce pollution.
The exposure indicator (ranging from very low to very high pollution) is expressed in terms of hourly concentrations of the three main pollutants: nitrogen dioxide (NO2), particulate matter (PM10) and ozone (O3).
Notifications are also sent to be informed of possible pollution episodes
Some pollutants, such as nitrogen dioxide, can aggravate allergies. The Air Matters application has the double advantage of managing pollution data but also of displaying the presence of the most widespread allergens (grass, mugwort, olive tree, alder, ragweed and birch).
Air Matters collects this data in more than 50 countries
This app can also be connected to Philips air purifiers, which can react according to the level of pollution detected in your home.
Sh**t ! I Smoke
More unusual! The app Sh**t! I Smoke app shows you how many cigarettes you smoke, by equivalence, simply by breathing the air.
For example, in Paris, on Friday 27 July, the inhabitants inhaled, according to the application, the equivalent of four cigarettes, passively, as far as fine particles are concerned. The application explains, how this calculation was made.
Air app on Appstore
If you want to stay on top of air quality updates on your Mac or iPhone, download the Air app from the Applestore. It’s a simple utility that displays the air quality of your postcode in the menu bar. Air automatically determines your location.
Moreover, its background in the menu bar even adapts to conditions, such as displaying a bright red for unhealthy environments. Other than that, you don’t have many options, except to manually choose a postcode.
The best air quality application for Windows is Airqualiter. It is a standard AQI application that displays all the information you expect. You can add multiple cities, browse the world view, plan your days with hourly forecasts, etc.
BreezoMeter or Aqicn
If you do not wish to install a dedicated IQA measurement application, you can also check the air quality from your browser. There are many websites that offer a similar set of features without installing anything.
You should try two of them: BreezoMeter and Aqicn. Both provide largely accurate results. In fact, Aqicn actually stems from a social enterprise project called The World Air Quality Index Project.
How to protect yourself from poor air quality?
With increasing pollution levels, it is likely that none of these applications will bring us good news. However, it is still wise to know the quality of the air we breathe in order to make the best decisions for our travels. I can only recommend that you always go out with an effective respiratory mask, at least FFP2 standard like the Frogmask pollution masks.