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6 Steps to Understanding Air Quality Data

BreezoMeter AQ data vs. Google

Air quality data is becoming more prevalent, and is now featured when you search for something along the lines of "what is the air quality / pollution in [city]." Understanding the differences between various air quality data measurements might be a little confusing at first, but our goal as air quality experts is to help you become one as well.

Here are some of the key factors in understanding the differences you might have already noticed:

  1. On BreezoMeter’s site and apps, you can search for location-based air quality data down to the city block level, that is real-time. Our algorithms allow us to do this by mapping air pollution onto a high resolution grid. Want to see what that looks like? Here’s some info about our accuracy, and there’s a video in there too.
  2. Real-time air quality data? How? It takes time for air pollution monitoring stations to report data, but using machine learning and big data analytics, air dispersion modelling, and more - BreezoMeter accurately predicts what is happening right now. To read an in-depth explanation, check out the blog post on how BreezoMeter improves real-time air quality reporting.
  3. Air pollution station data is one layer of a much more complicated picture that tells the story of location-based, real-time air quality data. BreezoMeter integrates the station data with local weather information, traffic conditions, satellite data, air dispersion models like CAMS and more, to more fully show what’s in the air we breathe.
  4. Not all stations measure all key air pollutants, so air quality data based on a single station that provides measurements for just one pollutant, for example, reports air quality based on partial information. By applying our proprietary spatial algorithms and integrating station data with other layers, like those listed above, all of the key air pollutants are considered by BreezoMeter’s air quality index. So if you've searched for a place on BreezoMeter's site next to a station reporting only ozone, you'll still see data according to the full picture, as data from nearby stations are spatially interpolated and combined with other data input. 
  5. Which air quality index (AQI) is used? BreezoMeter’s BAQI is a globally unified air quality index that uses a 0 (poor) to 100 (excellent) scale to make it easy for people and businesses worldwide to understand air quality globally. There are many different local AQIs, and countries define their own air quality index, using different key pollutants, different categories, and different threshold values.
  6. What are the key pollutants that are used to determine BreezoMeter air quality index? Ozone (O3), carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), particulate matter (PM10), fine particulate matter (PM2.5), and sulfur dioxide (SO2) are analyzed for the BAQI. Local AQIs sometimes use additional pollutants, and many countries don’t use all of these 6.

Air pollution is very dynamic: Over the course of just one day, air pollution can vary significantly, from hour to hour (temporally) and also street to street (spatially). Different pollutants from different emission sources (cars or factories, for example) have different effects on the overall air quality, and weather factors like temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and direction, atmospheric inversion, precipitation and sun radiation can all impact the situation as well.

Did you know? Even in the most polluted cities such as Beijing or New Delhi, air quality is not terrible all day, every day. Check how the air is where you are:

check air pollution map

Do you have more questions? Check out our frequently asked questions or feel free to get in touch with one of our air quality experts.

Emil Fisher, CTO and Co-founder @BreezoMeter, has a B.Sc in software engineering from Israel's Technion, and is passionate about solving technological problems in our environmentally challenged world.

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