As wildfire smoke from Canada continued to drift across the United States, creating unhealthy air quality, many places across the country were under air quality alerts on Thursday.
Heeding those alerts is important to staying safe, but monitoring air quality levels can also help you decide when it is safe to go outside. (Air quality levels can shift through the day, depending on the time and how much smoke is in an area.)
These apps can help you track air quality levels.
AirNow Mobile App
The AirNow Mobile App, available on iPhones and Android phones, was created by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, which oversees air quality across the country.
The app allows users to enter their ZIP code or city to get the most up-to-date information about air quality levels. The app also has a fire and smoke map that allows users to see where the thickest layers of smoke have drifted.
IQAir AirVisual | Air Quality App
The IQAir AirVisual | Air Quality app, which is also available for iPhone or Android users, provides the latest air quality levels, as well as helpful context about how poor the air quality is in a certain region.
IQAir has a real-time ranking that shows which cities have the worst levels of air pollution. At times this week, New York City has had some of the worst air quality levels in the world.
IQAir’s app also shares health recommendations. When air quality reaches unhealthy levels, for example, IQAir recommends wearing a mask outdoors, using an air purifier at home, closing windows and avoiding outdoor exercise.
For those looking for detailed information, the Plume Labs app shares comprehensive maps with pollution hot spots. The app also has an hourly air quality forecast as levels often shift throughout the day.
The app, available for iPhones and Android phones, can also send alerts when air quality levels worsen.
The AirCare app shares air quality information along with helpful guidance. When air quality is healthy, the app says, “You can breathe freely.”
The app includes a tracker that monitors allergens such as tree, grass and ragweed pollen. The app also tracks the UV index, and it provides recommendations such as “avoid sun around noon, seek shade and use sunscreen,” when UV radiation from the sun is high.
Other helpful places for air quality information
Several weather apps, such as those created by Apple, The Weather Channel and AccuWeather, all provide air quality levels, in addition to weather forecasts.
The National Weather Service also provides details about air quality online, along with resources on air quality safety.