Top apps for checking air quality index and wildfire smoke in your vicinity.

Individuals in the eastern region of the United States, who are unaccustomed to wildfires, are currently experiencing the consequences of smoke and air pollution from fires in Canada that have spread across the Midwest, Ohio Valley, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. While smoke from fires in the west has previously impacted the east, the present Canadian fires have caused the most severe air quality on record for some US cities. Experts have cautioned that the smoke from large fires contains minuscule particles that can be hazardous when inhaled, particularly for children, the elderly, and those with respiratory and heart disease. Studies have correlated exposure to fine particles in the air with heart attacks, heart failure, and strokes. Researchers at Harvard University have also discovered a higher incidence of COVID-19 cases and fatalities among individuals exposed to wildfire smoke. Millions of people are currently under air quality advisories, and there is a possibility of additional fires in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK — JUNE 06: People look out over Manhattan enveloped in a dense haze caused by wildfires in Canada on June 06, 2023 in New York City. Over 100 wildfires are burning in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia and Quebec resulting in air quality health alerts for the Adirondacks, Eastern Lake Ontario, Central New York and Western New York. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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The positive news: Government organizations possess air-quality sensors dispersed throughout the nation, and they share the information they gather with the EPA. Combine that with air-quality measurements from at-home detectors like PurpleAir, and you possess a relatively good perception of air quality in a particular region. Simply grab your phone and utilize applications like the EPA's AirNow, and they will report local air quality and inform you whether it's safe to spend time outdoors.

How to safeguard yourself against wildfire smoke and poor air quality levels

These apps calculate air quality using a 500-point scale called the U.S. Air Quality Index, or AQI. Numbers ranging from zero to 50 are deemed "good," while numbers between 51 to 100 are considered "moderate." Any number over 100 is considered "unhealthy for sensitive groups," such as children, the elderly, and individuals with heart or lung disease, according to the EPA. If the number is above 200, the AirNow app advises individuals from sensitive groups to stay indoors.

Smoke from wildfires hangs over Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 6, 2023. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP)

The "smoke" tab is your go-to for quick information on wildfires. Pinch your fingers together to zoom out and watch smoke clouds as they move. The map also displays fire incidents. The small, colored shapes represent air-quality readings from EPA and U.S. Forest Service monitors, as well as PurpleAir sensors that people can purchase for themselves (although they may be less accurate). The legend explains what the colors mean, with green being the best air quality and purple being the worst. Together, these readings provide a good snapshot of what's happening in the areas, both currently and over the past few hours, according to Mayeda.
طلحة عبد الكريم
By : طلحة عبد الكريم
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