People are worried about the health consequences of air pollution. These people include:
People who have heart, lung, or other breathing issues may be at risk from air pollution.
Care for someone sensitive to polluting.
People who are interested to learn more about the causes and how they can reduce air pollution.
Air quality analysis measures how clean or polluted the atmosphere is. Monitoring the quality of the air is crucial because polluted air can cause serious health problems and harm to the environment.
The Air Quality Index, also known as AQI, measures the quality of air. The AQI functions in a similar way to a thermometer. It can range from 0 to 500 degrees. However, instead of showing temperature changes, the AQI can show changes in pollution levels.
Most of the air we breathe is composed of oxygen and nitrogen. There are also smaller amounts, however, of other gases or particles in the air. AQI tracks five major air pollutants:
- Ground-level ozone
- Carbon monoxide
- Sulfur dioxide
- Nitrogen dioxide
- Aerosols, or particles that are carried by air,
Ground-level ozone, and airborne particles, are the most dangerous air pollutants in the United States. They are also the main components of smog, which is a form of air pollution that reduces visibility.
What causes bad air quality?
Ozone, a gas you have probably heard of, is found in high-altitude layers in Earth’s atmosphere. This ozone layer helps to block the Sun’s radiation. However, ground-level ozone is harmful to human health. It is formed when sunlight reacts to certain chemical emissions, such as methane or carbon monoxide. These chemicals can be produced by industrial facilities, car exhaust, and gasoline vapors.
Airborne particles can either be solid or liquid droplets suspended in the air. These particles are also at risk from fires, wildfires, and volcanoes. They can also be formed by chemical reactions in the atmosphere.
Are you concerned about the air quality?
An AQI of less than 50 signifies that the air quality, in general, is excellent. A person can still enjoy outdoor activities at this level of AQI and there will be no health risks. The risk to human health goes up as the AQI number rises.
Where do you get information about the air quality?
Instruments on Earth and satellites orbiting Earth gather information about what’s in our air. NOAA’s satellites in GOES R (shortform Geostationary Operatortional Environment Satellites R) monitor the amount or particle pollution in our atmosphere.
The Joint Polar Satellite System collects data about the particles in our atmosphere. Satellites JPSS can also measure ground-level ozone.
GOES R Series satellites can measure particle pollution every five minutes during the day. JPSS Satellites can provide a more detailed measurement of aerosols throughout the entire planet at once every day. JPSS can observe aerosol movement from one side of the planet to another. JPSS is also capable of measuring carbon monoxide that is related to poor air quality as a result of wildfires.