Graphic of AQCIN MapA recent study has discovered that the number of premature deaths that occur each year from air pollution may double by 2050.

Currently, this calculation is estimated at 3.3 million deaths. Compare that to the number of people that die worldwide from heart disease (7.4 million) and strokes (6.7 million) per year.

Unfortunately, air quality concerns are not at the top of our minds when we think about our health, mainly due to the fact that most airborne toxins are invisible to the naked eye.

Not being able to see air pollution makes it a lot harder for us to recognize when we may be in an area that’s negatively affecting our health.

Fortunately, a Beijing based group, Air Quality Index China (AQICN) is gathering air quality data points from more than 70 countries around the world and displaying this data in real-time online. Most of these monitoring stations are concentrated near big cities.

The AQICN hosts an interactive map that uses a color-coded system to help visitors quickly determine what the level of air pollution is within a specific location.

You can view a real-time forecast of air quality up to eight days out. The forecast model also incorporates weather data in order to predict how air pollution will shift and move.

The example below helps to explain how wind affects the air quality withing a city:

“South wind tends to increase the pollution in Beijing: If the wind is not strong enough (i.e. not ventilating enough), then the particules will get blocked by the mountains and will not be able to move further to the north, thus creating a dense particule concentration in Beijing.”

“North wind tend to clear the pollution: When the wind blows sufficiently from the North, the air gets almost immediately cleared since there is no “pollution source” in the north (or, at least, much less than in the south).”

This real-time air quality data provided by AQICN is beneficial for several reasons:

  • The general public is now open to quickly see research findings and results
  • The interactive map makes it easy to see where air pollution already is (or is becoming) a bigger concern
  • Knowing the air quality level around us can impact our lifestyle and habits. For example, you may be more inclined to invest in a home air purifier or deter your plans to travel to an unhealthy location.
  • As additional data is collected and displayed, the global impact of air pollution will be clearer and easier to understand.