Alabama's Air Quality

Air Quality Widget

The air quality report should be as accessible as the weather report. The Air Quality Widget pulls air quality data twice an hour directly from AirNow.gov, the official air quality reporting website. It also displays the air quality forecast for the following day when it becomes available. *Be sure to clear your cache to ensure you receive the most recent information. You can now embed the air quality widget on your website! It has a fixed width of 280px, and the height can change based on the font you use. The widget updates twice an hour. If you need to implement the script for somewhere outside of Birmingham, email social@gaspgroup.org with your zip code, and we will send you a custom script to use on your website!

How to Install the Widget

  1. Highlight and copy code from the following box:
<script id="gasp-load" src="https://www.gaspgroup.org/widget_airquality_inline.js.php" type="text/javascript"></script>
  1. Find a location to put it in your website’s source code.
  2. Hit Control + V to paste the code.
  3. Save your page and upload it to your server.
  4. Check your page and verify the widget works.

The Air Quality Index

The EPA reports air quality through a measurement it devised called the “air quality index,” or AQI. The AQI is a helpful tool for you to understand how polluted the air you are breathing is, as well as any health concerns to watch out for.
AQI ValuesLevelColorMeaning
0 to 50GoodGreenAir quality is considered satisfactory, and air pollution poses little or no risk.
51 to 100ModerateYellowAir quality is acceptable; however, for some pollutants there may be a moderate health concern for a very small number of people who are unusually sensitive to air pollution.
101 to 150Unhealthy for Sensitive GroupsOrangeMembers of sensitive groups may experience health effects. The general public is not likely to be affected.
151 to 200UnhealthyRedEveryone may begin to experience health effects; members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects.
201 to 300Very UnhealthyPurpleHealth alert: everyone may experience more serious health effects.
301 to 500HazardousMaroonHealth warnings of emergency conditions. The entire population is more likely to be affected.

What is Air Pollution?

The Clean Air Act requires the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for six common air pollutants — also known as “criteria pollutants.” These are: carbon monoxide, lead, ground-level ozone, nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter, and sulfur dioxide. These common air pollutants are found all and come from various sources such as coal-fired power plants, factories, cars, and trains. All of the criteria pollutants can be harmful to your health and the environment. Below are brief descriptions of the three Gasp is most concerned with: ground-level ozone, particulate matter, and sulfur dioxide.

Particle Pollution

Particle pollution, also known as particulate matter (or just “PM”) is made up of tiny solid particles and liquid droplets in the air. PM comes in many different shapes and sizes and can include everything from acids (such as nitrates and sulfates), organic chemicals, and metals, to microscopic bits of soil, pollen, and dust. These particles are breathed into your lungs and can even get into your bloodstream. There is no safe level of exposure to particle pollution.

Ozone Pollution

Ground-level ozone is created by chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the presence of sunlight. Ozone is the most common air pollutant in the United States. Breathing ozone pollution can trigger a variety of health problems including chest pain, coughing, throat irritation, and congestion. Children, seniors, and people living with chronic diseases (such as asthma, diabetes, COPD, and more) are at the most risk.

Sulfur Dioxide

Sulfur oxides (SOx) refers to a group of compounds that contain sulfur and oxygen. SOx can be harmful to humans and the environment, but sulfur dioxide, or SO2, is the pollutant of most concern. Emissions come primarily from power plants that burn fossil fuels to generate electricity, along with industrial processes and some “dirty” forms of transportation. Sulfur dioxide can cause respiratory problems; people with asthma are particularly sensitive to breathing SO2.

Report Air Pollution

It is important to let regulators know when pollution events like odors and large plumes of smoke occur so that they can be investigated. Creating a public record can help strengthen air pollution protections. Help us be an extra set of eyes and ears for state and local agencies by acting as a watchdog in your neighborhood. To report a complaint via phone, call 205.701.4277 and leave a message with your name, phone number, additional contact information, and a description of your concern. Click the button below to submit an online complaint.

Airkeepers Program

National Geographic defines citizen science as “the practice of public participation and collaboration in scientific research to increase scientific knowledge.” The Airkeepers Program leverages the discipline of citizen science to create a fuller picture of hyper-local air quality throughout Alabama. We use a variety of mobile and stationary digital devices — such as the Air Quality Egg, Dylos hand-held monitor, and Purple Air sensors — to collect data and, when possible, share with the public! Click on a monitor on the map to see real-time data.

Become an Airkeeper

This is an excellent way to get hands-on experience with the science of air monitoring. By volunteering, you will learn how Gasp and our partners are working to reduce exposure to air pollution.
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