This Earth Day, you can help save the planet. Air pollution endangers us all – and you can do something about it.
It doesn’t take superpowers and a cape to help save the earth. It simply takes desire and willpower. Contributors from all walks of life and every corner of the planet are mobilizing to fight for healthy, clean air. With air quality technology, these individuals join together to create a powerful clean air movement.
Why we fight for clean air
Air pollution poses a deadly threat to all life on Earth. Sometimes visible, sometimes unseen, toxic air pollutants harm every person and steal years off our lives. While access to clean air is a human right, every year poor air quality is responsible for an estimated 7 million preventable deaths .
The most dangerous air pollutants are so tiny as to be invisible. PM2.5 (particulate matter that is 2.5 microns in diameter or less) are so small that inhaling these particles endangers every organ of the body. And because they impact human health so much, they’re also among the most dangerous.
No country is safe from air pollution and no amount of air pollution is safe. Being exposed to poor air quality for a long period of time – or even short-term exposure – puts your health at risk. In 2021, the World Health Organization revised their guidelines for average annual PM2.5 exposure from 10 μg/m3 (micrograms per cubic meter) down to 5 μg/m3.
The revision was motivated by the growing body of scientific evidence demonstrating that even low levels of limited exposure to particle pollutants is dangerous. The2022 World Air Quality Report found that only six countries (Australia, Estonia, Finland, Grenada, Iceland, New Zealand) and six island territories (Bermuda, French Polynesia, Guam, New Caledonia, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands) met the new WHO PM2.5 guideline. Though an improvement over 2021 when no countries met the guideline, the vast majority of the global population’s air quality still wasn’t clean enough to be considered safe.
Download the 2022 World Air Quality Report
Learn about the state of air quality around the world.
Become a contributor
Even when the air seems clean, and the skies are clear, invisible pollutants from sources such as nearby industrial or vehicle emissions or fromwildfires thousands of miles away can cause us harm. The only way to know what we’re breathing is to measure and report the air quality. But not all areas have enough air quality sensors. In fact, some regions in the world lack any air quality data whatsoever; populations in these areas are blind to what they are breathing day-to-day, and need information on the air quality in order to live healthily.
Here’s where contributors can help lead the fight for clean air – by publicly sharing air quality information on the IQAir AirVisual Platform (IQAir AirVisual app and website). AirVisual provides free, air quality data and is the largest global air quality platform.
Image of air quality monitoring in part of Milwaukee, Wisconsin on March 2, 2022 on theIQAir AirVisual Platform.
Air quality information for several of the Milwaukee stations monitored was provided by anindividual contributor.
Outdoor air quality monitoringprovides real-time data collection of pollutants which can be shared across a global network of contributors and fellow citizen scientists. For example, air quality monitors installed in neighborhood sites acrossMilwaukee, Wisconsin by an air quality activist help paint a picture of how poor air quality was throughout the city on March 2, 2023.
Those stations are either government-owned, non-government organizations, or managed by individual contributors, also known as citizen scientists, dedicated to keeping themselves and their neighbors air aware.
The AirVisual air quality app – freely available for Android and iPhone users – can be set up to provide an air quality threshold alert for both device operators and for app users following a station.
Citizens and visitors in Dhaka, Bangladesh can see from their phones and through alerts that the average air quality in the city on March 1 was very unhealthy in part due unregulated industrial and vehicle pollution, smoke from brick-making kilns, and open refuse burning sites.
Screenshot of Dhaka, Bangladesh’s air quality taken from IQAir AirVisual app on March 1, 2023. The average air quality measured by air quality monitors in most of the city was very unhealthy (purple).
The AirVisual Outdoor air quality monitor offers multiple connectivity options for ease of use. Connect your device through LAN or connect to your home Wi-Fi. If Wi-Fi isn’t available, the AirVisual Outdoor comes with a slot for anoptional USB 4G modem which, when equipped with a SIM Card, can provide dedicated network connectivity.
The AirVisual Outdoor monitors can also be solar powered, an environmentally clean powering option.
Contributors change the world
Air quality contributors inChile had long known that poor air quality in the country and throughout Latin America was harming children’s health. Contributors banded together to form the Citizen's Air Quality Network for Early Childhood: New Air for Early Childhood (Red Ciudadana de Calidad de Aire para la Primera Infancia, or Aires Nuevos). The result – 82 air quality monitors placed in 28 cities at school sites and in public places.
Image of the Aires Nuevos contributor page.
By knowing there was an air quality issue, schools across Chile are now able to take immediate action like closing windows and running HVAC systems with filtration to reduce their student’s exposure to poor quality air.
Just because a city has air quality monitoring doesn’t mean additional monitoring isn’t beneficial. A dense network of air quality sensors provides higher quality data to a community. More air quality stations in a city or region provide greater understanding of how pollutants are impacting specific neighborhoods and communities. With this understanding, governments and individuals can start taking action to create a healthier Earth to breathe in.
The WHO air quality guidelines compel governments to commit to cleaner, more robust policies of pollutant source controls to meet the guidelines. But we can’t wait for action from governments alone to monitor the air. Contributors help fill the data gap, providing important air quality data for impacted communities. Air quality contributors also inform personal decision-making so that we can all reduce our exposure to dangerous air pollutants.
This Earth Day, become a data contributor for your own personal air quality and to improve the air quality in your community.