are you worried It’s a healthy habit to always check the Air Quality Index on your phone for smoke from wildfires in Canada and other pollutants that make the air less breathable. Yes, there’s one more thing to do when you grab your keys and rush out the door, but this knowledge will help you decide if it’s okay to wait until everything’s a little easier on urgent errands.
Looking out the window and seeing an otherworldly orange haze can be scary, but invisible particles can also be detrimental to your health. Here’s what the Air Quality Index really is, how to check levels near you, and some tips for managing yourself when the air outside has high levels of pollutants. Here are some important information.
What is Air Quality Index?
AQI is a scale on a scale of 0 to 500 that the Environmental Protection Agency rates based on the level of air pollution in a city. The main pollutants tracked by AQI are sulfur dioxide, ground-level ozone, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and particulate pollution. In the case of wildfire smoke, it is especially important to pay attention to the amount of particulate pollution in the air.
City centers are required to measure and report daily pollution levels to the EPA. If you live in a rural area, you may not have access to large-scale air quality data. Check with your local leaders to see what information is measured and available in your town.
How are these AQI numbers classified? An AQI between 0 and 50 is considered a good baseline with little health risk from breathing the air. A score of 51-100 means there is a lot of pollution in the air and it can affect sensitive people.
From 101 to 150, children and the elderly should be careful and limit their time outside the home. When temperatures reach 151-200, high levels of pollution can affect everyone negatively. An AQI above 200 indicates more severe contamination, and a reading above 300 is considered hazardous.
How can I check on my mobile phone?
There are several free apps you can download to monitor your AQI. One of the WIRED staff’s favorite options is an app called AirCare, which is very easy to set up.
First, download the app on your smartphone. Once that’s done, open the app and allow access to your location data. The app’s main screen displays AQI numbers based on nearby contamination.
Tap this number to see a breakdown of why your AQI got that score. For example, his AQI in San Francisco is 48 at the time of this writing. A closer look at the data reveals that ozone levels are the main contaminant contributing to this score.
Curious what the air quality is like elsewhere? Use the search bar at the top of the app to see AQIs for other locations. I checked her AQI in New York City and it was a dreadful 152. Ozone levels were similar to SF measurements, but the amount of small particulate matter from wildfires was dangerously high.
Your lungs are important! What steps should I take?
The New York State Department of Health recommends wearing a mask that covers your mouth and nose if you are outside when air quality is poor. Even if you have a few cloth masks around your home from the height of the coronavirus pandemic, you need more serious protection against wildfire smoke.
according to Center for Disease ControlCloth masks prevent the spread of respiratory droplets, but they don’t stop all the small particles from wildfire smoke that can reach your lungs when you breathe in contaminated air. One of the best options is the snug N95. Need a higher quality mask? We’ve rounded up where you can get your N95 online.
When air pollution levels are high, it’s important to stay home with all windows closed whenever possible. Consider running an air purifier to keep the indoor air clean. We use Blueair Pure 411 Auto at home. Check out our list of the best tested air purifiers to find the right option for your home.