Delhi Fog or Smog? Apps, Websites, and Gadgets to Monitor Air Quality Around You

Delhi Fog or Smog? Apps, Websites, and Gadgets to Monitor Air Quality Around You

Delhi Fog or Smog? Apps, Websites, and Gadgets to Monitor Air Quality Around YouPhoto Credit: AFP
Apps such as Plume can notify you at different times
SatAQ’s maps point towards the causes
Wynd is a portable air purifier for your breathing needs
There’s no easy way to put this – Delhi air quality is at an all-time low. Even other big cities – the likes of Mumbai, and Kolkata – only fare better because of the high levels of Delhi smog. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 36 percent and 27 percent of deaths owing to lung cancer and heart disease, respectively, can be attributed to air pollution. And with the winter properly here, it’s not going to get better soon.

We’ve previously written about low-tech and high-tech ways to combat pollution, a guide on how to buy an air purifier in India, and a list of the best performing air masks you can get your hands on. Right now, the air quality in Delhi is so bad that it is hard to determine if it is fog or smog, but in other cities, you might just need the occasional heads up to check if it’s safe to, for example, go out for a jog. If you regularly wonder how bad the air is outside before stepping out, here are a bunch of ways to monitor air pollution levels. This is not an exhaustive list, so please share your suggestions in the comments below.
Plume Air Report
The focus for Plume is on giving you a quick description of the pollution level in your city – with terms ranging from “moderate”, and “extreme” to – we’re not making this up – “airpocalypse”. You can swipe to see the highest score for PM2.5 (particulate matter of 2.5 microns or less), PM10, Ozone (O3), and Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2). You can get real-time figures on the app – free on both Android or iOS – and its website. Apart from the figures, it also provides suggestions on the feasibility a variety of outdoor activities – be it sports, cycling, going out with your baby, or eating outside.

Air Quality: Real time AQI
Termed the Air Quality Index (AQI), this Android-only app updates its measurements for PM2.5 and PM10 each hour. Apart from a widget for your home screen, you can also see detailed monthly history, maps showing the places sensors are located, and a colour-wise description of the AQI value presented to you.

You can get all of the aforementioned information on its website as well, which may not look very nice, but does provide a bucketload of info – O3, NO2, Sulphur Dioxide (SO2), Carbon Monoxide (CO), Temperature, Dew, Pressure, Humidity, and Wind in addition to PM2.5 and PM10 – at one glance.

Apart from the aforementioned websites of the air quality tracking apps, here are some websites that provide useful data over and above the same information.
If you’re interested in learning more about the sources and causes of pollution, SatAQ’s website has a few helpful widgets and charts, powered by NASA’s Worldview platform and’s wind patterns. In the case of New Delhi, you can tell at a glance where the problem is originating – a (deadly) combination of burning crop stubble in the state of Punjab, and a south-easterly airflow carrying the particulate matter right onto the capital.
An acronym for System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research, SAFAR is a collaboration between the Ministry of Earth Sciences and Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune. The system works off monitoring stations installed in various “micro-environments”, such as residential, industrial, agricultural zone, traffic junctions, and so forth. It’s currently available only for three cities: New Delhi, Mumbai, and Pune. Use it via its website, which works quicker than the poorly designed app for Android and iOS.

Laser Egg
Smart Air Filters is a clean-tech startup that promotes affordable air purifiers and DIY kits. The company also sells a reasonably priced air quality monitor on its website, the Laser Egg. It instantly measures the air quality in the immediate surroundings, and can show you the PM2.5 concentration, AQI (US EPA and Chinese standards), and particulate count. It has an eight hour battery life. You can buy the Laser Egg on the Smart Air website, for Rs. 8,995.

Unlike the Laser Egg, Wynd not only monitors the air around you but can also purify it, removing dust, allergens, smoke, and pollution in the process. And oh, did we mention it’s portable? It weighs less than a pound, can fit in standard cupholders, and the company claims it can deliver over 8 liters of clean air per second. You can check its data measurements on an app, or rely on the tracker light’s colour to tell air quality. It costs $168 (Rs. 11,200).

Do you have any other ideas to monitor air pollution in your area? Leave them in the comments below.

Tags: Air pollution, Air quality, Smog