EPA offers free apps to check air quality, UV index
January 30th, 2012
04:29 PM ET

EPA offers free apps to check air quality, UV index

If you wanted to know the air quality Monday morning in Tulsa, Oklahoma. (good), Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (moderate), or Modesto, California. (unhealthy for sensitive groups), a new smart phone app from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency could have helped.

The EPA’s free AIRNow app for Apple or Android phones allows users to enter a Zip Code and receive the pollutant and ozone levels for more than 400 cities across the country. You can also choose to check your current location.

The app gives levels for ozone and particle pollution such as automotive exhaust and an overall assessment of “good,” “moderate,” “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” “unhealthy,” “very unhealthy” and “hazardous.”

People with heart or lung conditions, children and older adults are most at risk when particle pollution, called PM 2.5, is elevated, according to the EPA. PM 2.5 measures the number of particles 2.5 micrometers in diameter or smaller, about 30 times smaller in diameter than the human hair. These particles come from a wide variety of sources, including motor vehicles, wood stoves and industry.

AIRNow also offers a color-coded map of the United States showing today’s current air quality and the forecast.

If you want alerts sent by e-mail, you can subscribe at EPA’s EnviroFlash allows you to specify where you live and what level of air quality you want to hear about.

A free UV Index app, by the EPA and the National Weather Service, gives users the levels of harmful ultraviolet radiation by Zip Code.

For example, the UV Index for 33040 (Key West, Florida) Monday was a 6, deemed high. The site advises wide brimmed hats and sunglasses, sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, and "long-sleeved shirts and pants where practical."

On the other hand, the UV Index in Fargo, North Dakota, on Monday was a 2, or low, meaning “you can safely enjoy being outside.”

UV radiation from the sun (and tanning beds) is classified as a human carcinogen by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization. Avoiding unprotected exposure to UV radiation reduces the chance of skin cancer, which is the most common form of cancer.

soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. NalifeBef

    Интересная информация. добавлю ка я в закладки


    January 31, 2012 at 09:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Deathstalker

    I think the EPA is a great federal service program and should never be dismantled. The GOP is a sad sad joke on all Americans right now.

    February 1, 2012 at 11:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Dawn

    Think about NYC and other cities in th 1970s. They had clouds of pollution that were part of everyday life and accepted. All of that has changed and can never be possible again 🙂 The EPA cannot be all places, all of the time, they are human beings, moms, dads, sisters and brothers, but I know from being married to one of the scientist there, they work hard at keeping this country safe everyday; with passion!

    February 2, 2012 at 12:41 | Report abuse | Reply
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  5. Darvin

    My only comment is that I am a nurse in the atlheh care industry and I see the results of high rising atlheh care because of environmental issues. We do not have enough mandates to make sure that corporations and businesses are being in compliance with state laws if there is any specifically written on these above issues. This is not a subject that needs to be taken lightly. This will affect the future of our entire global existence. What are we doing to help protect our globe? I live in Choctaw, Oklahoma and am a Public Service Major at Oklahoma State University. This is a subject very dear to my heart. There needs to be more committees in each community looking out for the isolated concerns in each community. That way the each state is addressed one community at a time and no one gets left out. I would like to see well water monitoring. Once person buys a house with a well on it in Oklahoma it is tested before closing and then after that it is never a requirement that it is tested again. There is all kinds of contaminants in well water that needs to be monitored. I would love to help for this great cause in anyway that I can. Thank You, Brenda

    March 4, 2012 at 05:00 | Report abuse | Reply
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