New EPA Tool Helps Answer Air Quality Questions
AirCompare, a new EPA-developed air quality tool, provides local air quality information to help people make informed decisions about moving, vacationing or living in different areas of the country.
“From people getting ready to retire to vacationers or those changing jobs, Americans are increasingly considering air quality as they make their plans,” said Bill Wehrum, EPA’s acting assistant administrator for Air and Radiation. “AirCompare helps answer those questions in a way that’s simple to understand.”
AirCompare uses EPA’s popular Air Quality Index (AQI) to explain air quality from a health perspective. A person with asthma, for example, can use AirCompare to select up to 10 counties across the country -- and with the click of a button, find out how many days the air was unhealthy for asthmatics last year. Or someone planning a trip can find out the best time of year to visit a particular area, based on concerns about asthma, heart disease, outdoor activity, or just general interest.
AirCompare searches EPA air quality databases to pull information about pollutants reported under the AQI – and to translate it into charts that show simply whether the previous year’s air quality was healthy, unhealthy or unhealthy for specific groups more susceptible to pollution. The tool also can provide a multi-year snapshot of a county’s air quality, based on a particular health issue.
U.S. air quality has improved dramatically since EPA first began addressing air pollution. Emissions of six key pollutants have dropped by more than half since 1970, and the national average concentration for each of those pollutants is now below the level of its air quality standard.
April 30-May 4 is Air Quality Awareness Week. This year’s theme is “Keep an Eye on the AQI,” to remind Americans to check daily air quality forecasts to help plan their outdoor activities.
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