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Technology Improving Air Quality Data Gathering

Posted on February 14, 2013
by Wendy Stackhouse
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One important factor in improving air quality is knowing your baseline: where you are starting from. Otherwise it’s impossible to tell if you are getting better. Some technological developments are helping the Environmental Protection Agency, research scientists and even ordinary citizens to know the air quality wherever they are so that they can make informed decisions about what they can do to improve it. Here are some things that are going on today:


California’s Central Valley has some of the worst air pollution in the nation and the National Aeronotical and Space Administration has sent two research planes to Kern County to improve air pollution monitoring.

The problem in Kern County is two-fold: geography and agriculture. Dairy farms produce ammonia which creates aerosols. These aerosols “confuse” the satellites monitoring the air quality, which cannot tell the difference “between pollution located high in the atmosphere and that found at the surface, where people live.”

The other problem in Kern County is the geography. The area is shaped like a bathtub with a lid, which traps the unhealthy air produced by the farms in the valley.

The NASA planes can fly lower than the satellites can see, monitoring where the pollution is rather than the cleaner air above.

The air quality where you live

Mobile app developers have created the AirNow app for both iOS and Android smartphones so that people can access the Air Quality Index for their location anytime, day or night. Click here to go to the AirNow website, where you can download either of these helpful apps.

You can help

Researchers and developers at The University of Southern California have developed an app which monitors your air quality and sends the data you collect back to the University. The information is gathered via a photo taken with your smartphone camera which measures visibility. Read more about the Visibility app here.

If you are a regular reader of our blogs, you will know that we are always interested in improving your air quality, especially indoors. In today’s well-sealed homes and office buildings, air quality can become a challenge. Make sure your air ducts and ventilation systems are cleaned and decontaminated regularly, bring in some potted plants and check your cleaning supplies for products which contain volatile organic compounds. And when you can…open the windows!

Happy Valentine’s Day from AirTek!

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