air quality map

The science behind an air quality map

We have begun to pay really close attention to the air quality in our environment. This is not surprising, given that, due to increasing car traffic and households heating their homes with coal, we are encountering increasingly troublesome smog that interferes with comfortable breathing and negatively affects our health – especially during the autumn and winter heating season. However, if we want to have an up-to-date view of whether the air is suitable for recreational outings and sports, an air quality map can be helpful. Find out how such a map works and how to read the figures it shows.

air quality map

How does an air quality map work?

An air quality map is based on the operation of special sensors that measure the purity of the air in a given area. How does this type of sensor work? Depending on their type, they have many ways of measuring the number and size of particles suspended in the air. Some of them use lasers to do this, through which they can make an estimate of the number of said particles in the chamber. Regardless of the measurement method, however, it is important that it measures parameters such as PM1, PM2.5 or PM10 in real time. Many sensors can be connected in a network that tracks the formation and subsequent movement of pollutants – a similar kind of network is in fact the maps that indicate the air quality in a given location. Finally, it is also worth knowing how to correctly read the figures from such a map in order to know the state of air quality in the particular location.

air quality map

How can you read these kinds of maps?

When you find a particular location on an air quality map, the place where the sensor is located will most likely be labelled with the corresponding Common Air Quality Index figure. The cleaner the air, the lower the value – the corresponding place on the scale is also marked with the corresponding colour, so you can immediately guess that dark red will mark places you should avoid because of poor air quality, and green will mark places where you can breathe a full breath of clean air. If you are curious to see what this looks like where you live – it is worth visiting the website of one of these maps, such as Airly.

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