It’s easy to resign yourself to accepting pollution. While you won’t stop giant factories, you can do something to reduce the risk of having pollution-related health issues — avoid excessive exposure at peak times. Plume Labs has developed a free iOS and Android app to do just that. Plume Air Report tells you if it’s safe to run, bike, go out with your children or eat outside.
To do this, the company relies on thousands of pollution monitoring stations. The company aggregates the usual suspects, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3) and particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10), and then hides all the complexity behind a simple index.
The app already works in 150 cities around the world. If you live in a major city, chances are you can get air pollution reports from the app.
But the best part is that you can see how pollution is going to evolve in the next five hours in some countries. This graph is reminiscent of Dark Sky‘s weather predictions, except that this time it’s about air pollution.
Plume Labs also compares its predictions with the actual pollution level so that it can make its algorithm better. As an added benefit, Plume Air Report also features weather forecast for the next five hours.
The app is very straightforward. When you open the app, once you have set up your favorite city, you land directly on the main forecasting screen, with the current situation at the top, a chart below and four bottoms to see if it’s safe to run or bike for example.
Co-founder and CEO Romain Lacombe told me that many early users in Paris have already changed their habits when it comes to deciding when to run. Sometimes, it’s better to delay your run by a few hours to avoid a pollution peak.
On iOS, you can set up a widget in the Today screen and on your Apple Watch. You can also decide to receive push notifications for pollution alerts, morning reports or evening reports.
Plume Air Report strikes the right balance between providing insightful information about air pollution and not being too complicated. It’s a pragmatical approach to air pollution.