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 services and apps for checking air quality, 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 more.
Check Air Quality on Android and iOS
AirVisual is one of the most comprehensive apps available for staying updated on your city’s air quality. 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 educates you on steps you can take to avoid getting sick. These include wearing a mask, closing your windows, avoiding cycling, and more.
AirVisual can send you alerts when the AQI fluctuates, and allows you to pin it on your home screen as a widget. 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 for users who want to adjust their outdoor activity sessions based on air quality. The app thus uses a sleek interface you can easily manipulate to know 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 states the air quality, temperature, and more.
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 app takes a unique approach to show you how bad the air quality is where you live. 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. To augment the experience, the app even plays a smoke animation on the right edge of the screen.
4. Check Air Quality From Your Mac’s Menu Bar
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 app 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, like 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 (Free)
5. Check Air Quality on a Windows PC
On Windows, the best air quality app is Airqualiter. It’s your 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 (Free)
6. Check Air Quality From Your Browser
If you don’t want to install a dedicated app just to check air quality, you can do it 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. And 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 here. It offers the most accurate readings and updates by the minute. In addition, you can paired them with a phone to check the quality from wherever you are.
Take a look at some of the best smart air quality monitors to decide which is right for your space.
You May Also Want to Invest in an Air Purifier
With pollution levels soaring at an alarming rate, it’s likely none of those websites and apps brought you good news. To stand the crummy air and avoid getting sick all the time, it’s wise to invest in a purifier. There are a ton of air purifier options available depending on the surface area you want to cover, and your budget.
You can also combine an air conditioner with air purification. But watch out for these air conditioner blunders: