The air you breathe every day is more toxic than ever as pollution levels continue to rise across the globe. Whether you’re going out for a run or leaving for work, it’s wise to keep tabs on your neighborhood’s air quality so you can take precautions if needed.
Here are the best air quality apps and services that will help you, whether you’re on your computer or phone.
How Is Air Quality Measured?
Several factors determine an area’s air quality. Together, those elements combine to form a near-universal metric called the Air Quality Index (AQI). The AQI for a specific location depends on characteristics like the time, how concentrated the pollutants are, and what kind of pollutants are in the air.
Since there’s a time factor involved, AQI is typically grouped into ranges. Each of those ranges is assigned a descriptor, color code, and standardized public health advisory like Poor, Unhealthy, and others.
Best Air Quality Index Apps for Android and iOS
Let’s first look at the best apps to check air quality on your mobile device while on the go.
AirVisual is one of the most comprehensive AQI apps for Android and iOS. In addition to letting you see quality levels, AirVisual offers a range of other features.
One of these is health recommendations, through which the app shows steps you can take to avoid getting sick. These include wearing a mask, closing your windows, or avoiding cycling.
AirVisual can send you alerts when the AQI fluctuates, which you can use as a widget on Android. Plus, you can view an overview of the entire globe to check how other cities compare to yours. To share on social networks, you can take a picture and apply the AirVisual filter on it. This adds details such as the AQI and location onto the image.
2. Plume Air Report
Plume is an air pollution checking app for users who want to adjust their outdoor activity sessions based on air quality. It has a sleek interface that shows exactly when you should, for instance, take your dog for a walk. There’s a timeline at the bottom half of the app and a visual at the top that displays the air quality, temperature, and other data.
Tap the upper section to reveal further details such as particle concentration, the best day of the year for air quality, and more. You can even select an activity beforehand and Plume will tell you the best times for it. Like AirVisual, Plume also offers a social image tool, periodic alerts, and a world view.
3. Sh**t! I Smoke
This little tool takes a unique approach compared to other air quality checking apps. Instead of throwing up the usual array of numbers, Sh**t! I Smoke shows the cigarette equivalent of the air you breathe.
For example, it might say “Shoot! You’ll smoke 2.7 cigarettes today” rather than simply telling you the AQI levels. You can still check those specific metrics by selecting More Details, though. To augment the experience, the app even plays a smoke animation on the right edge of the screen.
4. How to Check Air Quality on macOS
If you want to stay on top of air quality updates while working on a Mac, try an app called Air. It’s a straightforward Mac utility that shows your ZIP code’s air quality in the menu bar. Air automatically determines your location and functions perfectly out of the box.
Plus, its background in the menu bar even adapts to the conditions, such as showing bright red for unhealthy environments. Apart from this, you don’t have many options except for manually choosing a ZIP code. At the time of writing, Air only works in the United States.
Download: Air for macOS (Free)
5. Check Air Quality on a Windows PC
On Windows, the best air quality app is Airqualiter. It’s a standard AQI app that displays all the information you’d expect. You can add multiple cities, browse the world view, plan your days with hourly forecasts, and more.
Download: Airqualiter for Windows (Free)
6. Check Air Quality From Your Browser
If you don’t want to install a dedicated AQI measurement app, you can check air quality from your browser too. There are a lot of websites that offer a similar set of features without installing anything.
Two you should try are BreezoMeter and Aqicn. Both of them provide largely accurate results. As it turns out, Aqicn actually stems from a social enterprise project called The World Air Quality Index Project.
7. Get an Air Monitor
For people who live in a highly polluted city, buying an air monitor might be the best option. It offers the most accurate readings and updates by the minute. In addition, you can pair them with a phone to check the quality from wherever you are.
Our review of the Plume Labs Flow 2 found it to be a quality device, so it’s worth a look. For even more options, our guide to the best smart air quality monitors will help you decide which is right for your space.
Breathe in Cleaner and Safer Air
With pollution levels soaring, it’s likely none of these websites and apps brought you good news. To stand the crummy air and avoid getting sick all the time, it’s wise to know what the air is like so you can make the best decisions for your health.
Speaking of air-related devices, make sure to watch out for common air conditioner mistakes to avoid during hot days.
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