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How Do You Check Your Local Air Quality?

2009 November 19

Hey Pick 5’ers, it’s time again for you to share what you’ve done and how you did it.  If you haven’t done it yet, Pick 5 for the Environment and then come back to comment. Today we cover action #6: how do you check your local air quality? Please share your stories as comments below.

Local air quality affects how you live and breathe. It’s like the weather; it can change from day to day. When I purchased my home years ago I really was thinking about the money I would save by heating with the wood burning fireplace. I never thought about the air quality in and around my home. When I had my chimney cleaned, the tech asked if I ever had a carbon monoxide detector. When I told him no, he suggested that I invest in one. It had never crossed my mind, but I purchased one the next week, and was surprised how inexpensive it was. The detector, which simply plugs into an electrical outlet on the wall, helps me monitor carbon monoxide levels in my home.

By making changes in my daily routine, I’ve also started to help keep the air clean. I no longer warm my car in the morning, since the extra emissions contribute to unhealthy air quality. When I cleaned my garage this summer, I properly disposed of some household paints, solvents and pesticides; the materials I kept I now store in airtight containers so that they don’t leak any fumes. Fumes from these items can cause unhealthy air.
Now it’s your turn: How do you check your local air quality? If you’re not sure what you can do, learn more on our site.

Don’t hesitate to share your other Pick 5 tips on how you save water, commute without polluting save electricity , reduce, reuse, recycle , and test your home for radon.

Note: to ward off advertisers using our blog as a platform, we don’t allow specific product endorsements.  But feel free to suggest Web sites that review products, suggest types of products, and share your experiences using them!

About the author: Denise Owens has worked at EPA for over twenty years. She is currently working in the Office of Public Affairs in Washington, DC.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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12 Responses leave one →
  1. Eric permalink
    November 19, 2009

    Here is southern california we use aqmd.gov to check our air quality. It is significantly better than airnow.gov as it is much more user friendly and has a graphical display that makes air quality easy to understand. It would be great if EPA could model a national air quality site off of aqmd.gov.

  2. armansyahardanis permalink
    November 19, 2009

    Our country is just know two seasons, rain and hot, that rotation each six months. Before I read your blog, we didn’t know how measures local air quality. (Thank you Denise !)

    Long days, they have proud but perhaps negative thinking, called to another that their country are beautiful, and rich paranoia are haves much natural resources.

    But now, when disasters have been coming, they are shock !
    ” The small hell ” they had believed.

    I am sure, that almost people, here, are not knowing about air-quality. Can you help them Denise ?

  3. sara permalink
    November 20, 2009

    The latest check on air quality started earlier this year. It showed that air quality continued to be good across most of the City outside the Air Quality Management Areas. Further, the Council is recommending an up to date thorough investigation of PM10 in Sinfin, for the Victory Road PM10 Air Quality Management Area, to see if it can be revoked. We are currently seeking peoples’ views on this latest check on air quality.

  4. Johnny R. permalink
    November 20, 2009

    Keep your window open and you will know immediately if air quality is damaged by any local or regional sources of pollution. I keep mine open 24 hours except for the hottest days and coldest nights.
    Once in awhile a chemical factory vents at the night and I must close it, but other than that I enjoy fresh air, which is especially important when you’re sleeping and your brain is refreshing itself. People who habitually sleep with their windows shut tend to suffer from attention deficit disorder, dislexia, etc. Brain cells need oxygen 24 hours a day all year throughout your life, but in modern polluting times we can no longer assume its there.

  5. Patrice Quintero, Colorado Springs Utilities permalink
    November 20, 2009

    At Colorado Springs Utilities, we have a number of measures that help understand how impact on air quality in Colorado Springs and our region. There are two that stand out. For decades, we have worked with the State of Colorado to measure the affects of population growth, energy production and increased transportation on air quality in the Pikes Peak. Our procedures and equipment are approved by the EPA. We consistently meet or exceed air quality standards and regulations, and the Pikes Peak region is in attainment with NAAQS. The second is that we became a founding member of The Climate Registry, a nonprofit collaboration among North American states, provinces, territories and Native Sovereign Nations that sets consistent and transparent standards to calculate, verify and publicly report greenhouse gas emissions into a single registry. Through the Registry, we voluntarily inventory, verify and publicly report our greenhouse gas releases. This allows for accurate, consistent and transparent measurement of emissions across North America. The first report will be available in 2010.

  6. Ray permalink
    November 22, 2009

    If you want to do your own check on your local air quality it is possible. After initial failure to get our local air regulators to test our polluted neighborhood air, we in Oakland set up our own air monitor(in this instance one called MiniVol) to find out what we were breathing. We were aided by a nonprofit called Global Community Monitor. It’s not that expensive and not that difficult, but it helps to get a little advice. With some scientifically valid results you can often achieve attention of regulators, policy makers and media otherwise unavailable.

  7. Georgia permalink
    November 23, 2009

    This is a great idea that I hadn’t thought about before. We are regularly provided updates on the state of our tap water quality, but because air is much different (for one, it is not provided by a company!) information is much less readily available. It would be nice to someday have the data available through regular news/media outlets.

    I try to take little steps to maintain the integrity of indoor air quality, such as not using candles, incense, or air fresheners and by keeping lots of plants.

  8. Al Bannet permalink
    November 23, 2009

    If you saw the sci-fi film “Total Recall” in which humans established a colony on planet Mars, everyone had to pay for the air they breathed because it had to be produced artificially since Mars has almost no atmosphere at all. But if our growing population keeps on polluting the Earth it could happen here: bottled air on sale at the underground WalMart !

  9. Richard permalink
    December 4, 2009

    I don’t! :(

    Watch Saw 6

  10. Bob permalink
    December 23, 2009

    Keep your window open and you will know immediately if air quality is damaged by any local or regional sources of pollution. I keep mine open 24 hours except for the hottest days and coldest nights.

  11. bharat permalink
    January 5, 2010

    i have really never checked this lol.and how can we check it.but for sure my area is very polluted.
    bharat

  12. Matildo Maratas permalink
    September 2, 2010

    are the gases that present in the atmospher will be detected too?

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