It’s not known how many people in the United States suffer from asthma, because the degree of severity has such a wide range. Many scientists believe the number is likely in the millions. What is known is that air quality has a very certain impact on those with asthma and other lung conditions, thus those afflicted could benefit from up to the minute information for their location, and that’s just what MobileAQI (Mobile Air Quality Index) does, say the researchers at the University of Alabama, who wrote it. They’re part of the Earth System Science (ESC) initiative and both work with governmental agencies and especially the American Lung Association in disseminating information regarding air quality to those who need it.
The Air Quality Index is number a color system that is created through the use of sensors examine air samples on a regular basis. Of concern to those with lung problems are particulates of a certain size, the bigger the more trouble they cause. Thus, during the time of year when certain plants are spewing large amounts of relatively large seeds into the air, the index goes up. It goes up during heat waves too generally as air pressure allows more and larger particles to exist in the air. For this reason, the more serious a lung condition, the more imperative it is that good information regarding air quality be made available to anyone that needs it and any time. That’s where MobileAQI comes in.
The new app relies on technology provided by various governmental agencies and the servers that hold the congregated data is being offered by NASA, which also offers a host of air quality information. To use the app, after downloading it from the ESC page, users simply enter their location information and wait for their readings to come back. The app also offers forecasting in hour by hour increments for up to a day in advance. It’s available, for free, to both iOS and Android phones. Currently the app covers most of the East coast, and as far west as the Colorado border. Plans are in place to extend coverage to the entire country, but thus far no timeline for that has been established.
Development of the app was funded by NASA and the development team was made up of members of faculty and students at the University of Alabama, with assistance and input from several private and governmental institutions. The American Lung Association is also a supporter and encourages anyone living in the coverage area to download and begin using the app right away.