New Clean Air App | Breath Easier, Courtesy of the AQMD

From the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the app provides South Pasadena residents with current smog levels and air quality conditions

PHOTO: Bill Glazier | SouthPasadenan.com News | South Pasadena City Council member Michael Cacciotti, who also serves on the board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District, encourages the public to download the AQMD’s new clean air app

South Pasadena residents can breath easier knowing an app is available that monitors air quality.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) has released a unique interactive tool that gives citizens access to air quality information, weather updates, events, alerts, alternative fuel locations, news and activities about the agency and other key information.

Throughout the day, the App has the ability to detect air quality levels for fine particulate matter and ozone – or simply smog.

“If you’re traveling on trains or buses like I do,” said Michael Cacciotti, a South Pasadena City Council member who also serves on the board of SCAQMD, “I can get a reading on smog levels for that city.”

AQMD officials say about $130,000 was spent to build the app which was developed over a four-month span. In a display showing the air quality index, Green indicates is good, yellow indicates moderate, and anything in the red zone is unhealthy air.

Residents of the SCAQMD, which includes all of Orange County, and the urban portions of Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties, suffer from the worst air quality in the nation.

In an updated version, the app is now available in Spanish. To activate, simply set phone’s language setting to Spanish.

In addition, there’s a new video feature that provides live webcasts directly with clean air reports from the events section. There is also a searchable video archive in the video section.

More detailed weather information, including wind, humidity and UV Index, is found in the newest version of the app. The update also provides a few performance enhancements such as a pull-down refresh feature, faster loading time, and the ability to toggle animation to save space.

In a review of the app on the SCAQMD website, a user named Marissa wrote: “Prior to it, I’d log onto the SCAQMD website when my asthma flared up, or when I thought the air quality might not be so good. This app is a game-changer for me. No longer do I have to go looking for air quality info in my area, this app will alert me in real time when the air quality changes. This is incredibly helpful, as I can immediately take action to prevent an asthma attack, such as avoiding outdoor activities or closing my windows. Very grateful for this app & the services SCAQMD provide.”

Another reviewer, referred to as ‘adjkfghd’, said: “I live in Los Angeles where the air-quality can be iffy at best. But since were(sic) close to the ocean it’s hard to tell sometimes whether I’m looking at smog, haze, or fog. This app has been incredibly useful in giving me real time information about the quality of the air where I am right now. I think in the future people are going to make a lot of their day-to-day decisions, travel plans, and location decisions based on this app. 1 million thanks.”

Cacciotti knows all about “smog days” in a bygone era when residents were told to stay indoors as a result of damaged lungs from breathing the dirty air. The AQMD board member recognizes the agency has made significant improvements over the past 30 years cleaning up air pollution, but realizes much still needs to be done.

“The app helps provide the public with important information in a way that they can access results really easily and fast,” he said. “Whether I’m in South Pasadena, Alhambra, Montebello, or Walnut, I can get the air quality in each of those cities.”

Ironically, while the ocean breeze may show the best air quality is in a beach town like Malibu, where wind seemingly kicks out pollutants, “I was in El Monte the other day, and it was actually better than Malibu,” said Cacciotti laughing.

He noted another key feature of the app is the ability to call the Air Quality Management District on the spot “if you see a smoking vehicle in your neighborhood or something that just isn’t quite right,” he said. “Push a button and it will make a direct call to AQMD, 7:30 a.m. a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. They will then send a representative out to check on the air quality issue.”

South Coast AQMD’s mobile application requires an iPhone model 5 series and above or Android devices. The app is available by visiting www.aqmd.gov/mobileapp or by going to the App Store.

“It really provides people who care about air quality and their health the conditions that currently exist right now,” said Cacciotti. “It’s really a valuable tool.”