Keep track of your local air quality data in real-time at Clarity OpenMap (openmap.clarity.io).
This is the worse we’ve seen air pollution in the Bay Area in a while. As a team working on air pollution and air quality monitoring day in and day out, we wanted to give Bay Area residents an update on the air pollution carried over from the recent wildfires in California.
Unfortunately, we’re here to confirm that the haze everyone has been waking up to the past couple of days has not been the Bay’s famous fog, but high concentrations of pollution being carried over by the wildfires in California. There’s no tip-toeing around it — the air pollution is bad right now. For reference, here is a comparison of the air quality in the Bay Area on a typical day and yesterday, Thursday, August 23, 2018.
Bay Area Air Quality District has issued an air quality advisory that extends throughout the weekend, but regional air quality may be affected by the smoke throughout the rest of August. We encourage everyone to take advantage of Clarity OpenMap’s real-time air quality data as a supplementary resource to Bay Area Air Quality District (read their Air Quality Advisory and Wildfire Safety Tips or follow their Twitter for the latest updates) in the following days.
During high pollution events like now, Clarity OpenMap can help inform communities of their air pollution exposure to drive appropriate actions. Especially for sensitive populations such as children, seniors, and those with respiratory or cardiovascular illnesses, small increases in air pollution can cause unpleasant effects and adverse health effects.
Clarity OpenMap is a public repository of air quality visualizations from select Clarity Nodes around the world. We saw a need for accurate, real-time air quality data in communities without air quality monitors and began publicly releasing Clarity data during the Northern California fires in October 2017. Since then, we continue to make more of our global air quality network accessible to the public.
The air district uses traditional and expensive monitoring technology that aggregates the air quality measurement in a few locations into a single Air Quality Index (AQI) for the entire region. At one location, air quality may drastically fluctuate depending on time of day. It is sometimes difficult for the limited coverage of existing government monitoring networks to capture these nuances in air quality variation.
To illustrate the high variability in regional air quality, here is the air quality reported by the air district compared to air quality levels Clarity is picking up. Both screenshots were taken at the same time on August 23, 2018.
As demonstrated in the above comparison, air quality data needs to be measured at a much higher resolution to accurately represent the air we’re actually breathing.
The consensus among scientists is that as climate change continues to exacerbate extreme weather patterns, the fire season in California will only multiply in frequency and magnitude. Each proceeding year will continue to trump the last as the ‘worst’ we’ve seen. With better air quality data, we can proactively take preventative measures and make informed decisions that reduce the toll air pollution takes on our communities.
In the meantime, please feel free to share this post and OpenMap (openmap.clarity.io) with friends and family who will benefit from our real-time air quality data.