So you’ve just downloaded the Plume Air Report. Great! Time to learn more about how to get the data you need to simply and easily lower your exposure to air pollution. 😎
The air pollution data used in the Plume Air Report is provided by environmental monitoring networks run by local and national governments around the world. Here’s a list of our current sources.
Know what you breathe with our pollution forecasts
Air pollution changes by the hour
Like the weather, air pollution is constantly evolving. Air quality can vary with:
- Human activity such as a morning traffic buildup or heating peak in the evening.
- Weather conditions such as wind and rain.
Visualizing air pollution over time
Use the graph at the bottom of the main screen to travel back in time and access air pollution data in your city over the last 24 hours. You can navigate by swiping left and right along the curve. We’ll display the time and date corresponding to the selected value above the graph.
We’ve also developed predictive air pollution models for every city on Earth. Our forecasts appear on the display as a dashed line. Want to know how historical data holds up? Pull two fingers together across the screen to change the timescale used in the graph.
The video above also shows a light blue band representing the range of average pollution values in your selected city. If the curve falls outside of this range, you know that air pollution is abnormally high (or low) at the moment.
Actionable info to help lower your exposure
Get relevant recommendations
Depending on the current air quality reading in your city, the Plume Air Report provides some dos and don’ts represented by the icons at the bottom of the main screen. We list 4 main activities: going for a run, riding your bike, heading outdoors if you have sensitivities, and dining outside.
- Green: The current pollution levels won’t impact your ability to perform the activity. Enjoy!
- Orange: You should carry out this activity with care. Take it easy, and if possible postpone your plans using our forecasts until pollution levels have lowered.
- Red: Pollution levels are high enough that performing this activity may impact your health. Icons turn red if World Health Organisation short-term exposure limits have been exceeded.
The icons might not all be the same color at the same time, as not every activity is equal in terms of air pollution exposure. Running, for example, causes you to breathe a higher volume of air than dining outside, meaning the first scenario represents a more immediate health risk when the air is polluted.
Personalize your app
You can customize these recommendations by use the menu in the upper-left corner of the app. Select “Settings”, then adjust your sensitivity to either low, normal or high. Select high and we’ll trigger the red warning levels much earlier than if you choose low.
The Plume Air Quality Index (AQI): Air quality comparisons at a glance
What is the Plume AQI?
The Plume AQI gives you an immediate overview of pollution levels in your city, just as the temperature might give you a first indication of the weather outside.
As you may not have a familiar reference point for our Plume AQI, we always display the current figure alongside the yearly average for the city currently displayed, as well as the levels on the best and worst days of the year.
Our pollution scale provides an additional reference point. The 7 categories—from Fresh Air to Airpocalypse—correspond to an increasing pollutant concentrations, and thus to an increased health risk.
What do the different levels of our Plume AQI mean?
- Fresh Air: The air is clear—perfect for outdoor activities!
- Moderate Pollution: Air quality is considered acceptable. However, there may be certain health concerns for people with specific sensitivities.
- High Pollution: The air is highly polluted—above daily recommendations from the World Health Organisation. Everyone may start to feel adverse health effects.
- Very High Pollution: Everyone may start to experience more serious health effects. Long term exposure constitutes a real health risk.
- Excessive Pollution: Air pollution has reached critical levels. This may have harmful impacts on your health, even in the case of short-term exposure.
- Extreme Pollution: These health warnings constitute emergency conditions. Harmful impacts on the general public, even in the case of short-term exposure.
- Airpocalypse: The entire population should avoid outdoor activities until pollution subsides. Short-term exposure constitutes a serious health risk.
What does the Plume AQI measure?
In order to easily communicate air pollution levels, governments and academics use an indicator referred to as an air quality index (AQI). The more polluted the air, the higher the number, the greater the share of the population that is likely to feel negative effects from pollution—be they short-term or long-term health impacts.
How is the Plume AQI calculated?
Plume uses WHO guidelines as well as international standards developed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other scientific studies to define the Plume AQI and its seven associated categories. The Plume AQI takes into account the concentrations of several different harmful pollutants and its overall value stems from the level of whichever pollutant is currently having the greatest impact on people’s health.
The Confidence Index (CI)
Our confidence index (CI) is based on the amount of data from ground level sources, and how far in the future we are forecasting. More sources and more recent forecasts lead to a higher CI.
Historical data backed up by at least one ground level source generally has a CI of 100%.
As predictions get further into the future, the number of sources becomes more important. Forecasts for the next 6 hours in San Francisco have a CI of 98%, but for New Delhi it’s only 70% (as SF has more ground stations). The further out the forecast, the lower the CI.
Data with no ground level sources comes from a model (similar to weather forecasts but for air quality) and has an associated CI of 80/70/60% depending on its resolution.