Q: What is myAir?
myAir is a customized service that takes information from government air quality monitoring stations and add to that information you provide about yourself to give you a recommendation on how long you can work out outside on that day, at that time and maintain safe exposure to the bad things in the air.
Q: How does myAir work?
Data is collected every hour from EPA monitoring locations. When you bring up the myAir page and put in your location, age and other details, we calculate the amount of safe exposure you can have based on the intensity of your planned workout and the conditions in the air.
Q: I thought pollution was basically bad for my lungs. Is myAir is telling me I can breathe in a certain amount of “dirty air?” Is that safe?
The human body is an amazing thing. Lungs are developed with a remarkable ability to maintain themselves (that’s why people don’t drop dead after a single pack of cigarettes for example). Every day when we breathe in, we ingest some pollutants into our lungs. That can be man made or things from nature.
Our lungs have the ability to clean out the contamination and repair themselves. Of course this ability has its limits. As we age the regenerative and cleaning capabilities decline. If we have other conditions like asthma or other pulmonary or respiratory conditions, we may not be able to perform this maintenance as well as an otherwise healthy person.
Also, if you are walking for a mile, you will breathe in fewer contaminants than if you ran that same mile. Finally, depending on where you are, and time of day, the pollution levels will vary. That’s why myAir asks you to give us all of that information so we can then provide a personalized recommendation for safe exposure limits. Your lungs are designed to handle a lot of stuff. The myAir App lets you know how much bad stuff you’ll be taking in and when you will reach the limits of your body to regenerate.
Q: It looks pretty bad outside but myAir says I’m okay to exercise, what gives?
Lungs are remarkable things. They have developed in humans with the ability to absorb a fair amount of pollution and clean themselves out. The key is not to exceed the lungs’ ability to regenerate and repair.
Appearances can sometimes be deceiving when it comes to air quality. That’s why myAir takes multiple samples from multiple EPA test sites and projects them based on the information you have provided for the time and place where you plan on being outdoors.
Q: What do you do with the data you collect from me?
We do not keep it as a matter of policy. From time to time we may ask myAir users to participate in a scientific study to help monitor the effects of air quality and overall health but that’s only if you give us permission.
Q: It looks nice outside but myAir says to look out for ozone—how can that be?
Sometimes when it looks bad outside, myAir will tell you that it is okay to go for your run. Other times it may look sunny and nice but myAir will advise you against going outside for your normal workout. That’s because not all pollution that damages your lungs is visible to the naked eye. Take ozone for example. Ozone is a form of oxygen where three oxygen atoms decide to come together rather than the usual two. Ozone is a useful gas in the upper atmosphere because it stops skin-damaging ultraviolet radiation from the sun from reaching us.
The problem with ozone is that it’s pretty reactive and when it’s close to the surface, it can react inside your lungs, damaging them. Here’s the other thing about ozone, like regular oxygen, it’s invisible to the human eye. You can’t see it but the sensor network that myAir uses can. So even if it looks great outside, check with myAir to make sure there’s invisible lurking outside in the air you breathe.
Q: Why does myAir ask me about my age and weight and other personal details?
We need that information so we can provide you with a personalized recommendation on how much of what you plan on doing is possible based on the air quality conditions at your location. This is what makes myAir more useful than a simple air quality index measurement. Think of us like a personalized air report.
Or in another way, if the UV index people report were like myAir, instead of giving you a simple number and letting you figure out how much sunscreen and exposure to get, it would tell you how many minutes and with which SPF sunscreen you should use for your complexion.