Photo courtesy of UNDP

Air pollution has become the greatest environmental health hazard to humankind, causing over six million deaths a year and an economic cost that equates to over $8 trillion dollars. To help humans cope and decide whether or not to go out based on the status of the air, companies have developed Air Quality apps.

Air Pollution: The Silent Killer

According to a World Air Quality Report released in 2022 by Swiss air quality technology company IQAir, out of 131 countries, regions and territories involved in a survey, only 13 met World Health Organization air guidelines of annual PM2.5 concentrations at or below 5 μg/m3 in 2022, many of which were in Oceania.

IQAir defines PM2.5 concentration as the amount of fine particulate aerosol particles up to 2.5 microns in diameter.
The report further revealed that over 90% of pollution-related deaths take place in low- and middle-income nations, having a particularly severe impact on already vulnerable people. When weighted by population, the continents with the greatest annual average PM2.5 concentrations were Africa, Central Asia, and South Asia.

Photo courtesy of Statista

The graph above shows the wide regional variations in air quality, with places like Lahore, Pakistan (97.4 g of PM2.5 particles per m3) and Delhi, India, exceeding WHO standards by more than ten times. Cities like Reykjavik in Iceland (3.3) and Tallinn in Estonia (4.8), which are among the few that comply with rules, are at the other extreme of the range.

Air Quality apps have been developed to help monitor the quality of air in the environment and aid the making of decisions that require people to be outside. They also offer warnings and alerts in case of any dangers pertaining to the air while some even offer advice and measures to take depending on the quality of air around you.

Best App For Contextualizing Air Quality: IQAir AirVisual

Photo courtesy of IQAir

The IQAir AirVisual | Air Quality app offers the most recent air quality readings in addition to useful context regarding how bad the air quality is in a certain area. The app, which is available to both iPhone and Android users, monitors air pollution in more than 10,000 cities and 80 countries collecting data from tens of thousands of sensors.

IQAir provides a ranking of the cities with the worst air pollution in real-time. For instance, according to the app, this week, the air quality in New York City has occasionally been among the worst in the entire world.

The IQAir app also provides health advice. For example, IQAir advises wearing a mask outdoors, using an air purifier within, shutting windows, and avoiding outdoor exercise when the air quality reaches harmful levels.

The EPA’s Own Air Quality App: AirNow

Photo courtesy of AirNow

To help people monitor the quality of air in the country, The United States Environmental Protection Agency, developed the AirNow Mobile App, which can be downloaded on iPhones and Android smartphones.

Like the majority of air pollution trackers, AirNow uses a color-coded visual system to show whether air pollution levels are good to hazardous or whether there is insufficient information to provide a rating.

In order to receive the most recent information on air quality levels, users of the app can input their ZIP code or city. Users of the app can also view a map of the fire and smoke to determine where the thickest levels of smoke have moved.

Best Air Quality App With Detailed Maps: Plume Labs

Phot courtesy of Antoine Simon

The Plume Labs app offers detailed maps with pollution hotspots for people seeking in-depth information. Since levels frequently change during the day, the app also includes an hourly air quality forecast.

When the air quality deteriorates, the app, which is compatible with both iPhones and Android phones, can also send alarms.

Best Air Quality App For Practical Advice and Allergy Tracker: AirCare

Photo courtesy of AirCare

Aside from providing data on air quality, AirCare also provides practical advice. The app indicates that you may breathe freely when the air is in good condition or you should wear a mask when the quality is otherwise.

The app also includes a tracker for allergies like ragweed, grass, and tree pollen. Additionally, the app monitors the UV index and offers advice like “avoid sun around noon, seek shade, and use sunscreen” when UV radiation from the sun is high.

AirCare is available in a free, ad-supported version as well as a pro version that costs $39.99 a year.

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