UCLA Air Quality App Joins Growing Field

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UCLA Health and the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability have released an air quality app usable anywhere in the U.S. that taps into data from monitors set up nationwide and is tracked by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Users can search for air quality readings in specific cities or zip codes and receive notifications if quality levels reach unhealthy levels. The free app, called AirForU, is available for both Apple iOS and Android devices. It provides real-time updates every hour and a prediction for the next day.

The app provides a six-level air quality measurement scale, from good to hazardous. Separate tabs give pointers about how to respond (for example, “reduce outdoor exertion”), the locations of large manufacturing facilities emitting toxic chemicals nearby and frequently asked questions.

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The app's developers intended it to be part of a research project to learn how much people know about and react to the health effects of poor air quality. The app encourages users to participate by asking them to respond to questions such as whether they decided to stay inside due to poor air quality, whether they suffered an asthma attack that day, or whether they installed indoor air filters.

The app is the among the latest in a field of air quality apps from public and private sector developers; examples include BreezoMeter, Minnesota Air app, and Clean Air Make More, which provides air quality information for  the greater Phoenix area.

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