Air Quality Awareness Week 2022: AirNow Fire and Smoke Map Adds New Feature to Improve Accessibility for People with Color Vision Deficiencies
WASHINGTON (May 2, 2022) – Today, as the agency kicks off Air Quality Awareness Week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) are announcing a new pilot feature of the AirNow Fire and Smoke Map to make it more accessible to people with color vision deficiencies.
“As we mark Air Quality Awareness Week this year, I’m excited to join the U.S. Forest Service to provide a new AirNow feature that allows more Americans to access our important air quality resources,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “The AirNow app helps communities near the front lines better understand their risks from wildfire smoke and the actions they can take to protect their health during wildfire events.”
Recognizing that people with color vision deficiencies may have difficulty discerning adjacent Air Quality Index (AQI) colors, EPA and USFS are piloting a modified version of the AQI color scale on the Fire and Smoke Map. The modified scale, which was developed by the South Coast Air Quality Management District in coordination with the Desert Research Institute, is designed to accommodate individuals who have some form of color vision deficiency, while being similar to the traditional U.S. AQI color scale used across the country. To access the modified scale, click or tap the color wheel icon in the upper righthand corner of the map, which is available both on the AirNow website and in the free AirNow app for iPhones and Android phones.
EPA and USFS launched the Fire and Smoke Map in 2020 to provide the public information on fire locations, smoke plumes and air quality all in one place. To give users the most localized air quality information possible, the map pulls data from monitors that regularly report to AirNow, temporary monitors such as those the Forest Service and air agencies have deployed near fires, and crowd-sourced data from nearly 13,000 low-cost sensors that measure fine particle pollution, the major harmful pollutant in smoke. The map shows this data in the familiar color-coding of the AQI.
If you haven’t visited the Fire and Smoke Map before, Air Quality Awareness Week is a great time to start. EPA and its federal, state, local and tribal partners mark the week every May to share information on air quality and health and to encourage people to use the AQI to plan their outdoor activities to protect their health from air pollution. This year’s theme is “Be Air Aware and Prepared,” and AirNow is featuring daily information about air quality topics, including wildfire smoke, asthma and environmental justice, among others. Follow @AirNow on Twitter and Facebook to test your “AQ IQ” during the week, and search the hashtag #AQAW2022 to see more Air Quality Awareness Week content from EPA and its partners.
To download the free AirNow App, visit:
Apple App Store: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/epa-airnow/id467653238
Google Play Store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.saic.airnow