Air Now

 

Take a Deep Breath – Or NotSmoke filled sky pollution air quality from wildfires burning Washington state

  • What: Airnow.gov
  • When: Pregnancy to college
  • Why: Monitor air quality in your area
  • Where: Airnow.gov

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the wildfires ravaging much of the western states. If you live on the West Coast, you already know the air quality sucks. And if you don’t live anywhere near the recent spate of wildfires, you might still be interested to see just how much of an effect the wildfires have, even in areas where no fires burn.

Airnow.gov Portland air quality rating hazardous
Airnow.gov shows the AQI at its worst.

Enter AirNow. This site provides up-to-date information on air quality, as measured by the AQI, which stands for air quality index. Even if no one in your family ranks as high risk, it can still be good to know how to find the information you need to keep your kids and yourself safe.

Sun hidden by smoke pollution from wildfire smoke in Washington state
The sun can barely be seen thanks to the thick wildfire smoke affecting air quality.

For instance, until recently, I thought the color scale ranged from green (clear air) to red (unsafe). It turns out two more categories exist, both worse than red. Purple means everyone, regardless of their health, should stay inside with the doors and windows closed and not open anything unless absolutely necessary. If you do go outside, use a mask. Brown means the world is ending. Seriously, brown means you need a respiratory mask to step outdoors, and even then you probably shouldn’t risk it. 

If you want to check out the air quality where you live, or see how friends and family fare, look no further than this simple-to-use site that provides both current conditions and forecast information.

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