Outdoor air pollution, in the most extreme cases, can be immediately identified even without any special training. It casts a haze over cities, collects on streets and buildings, and provides dramatic fodder for the news. But while high drama is often a prerequisite for news about air quality to be reported, the real story is the health impacts that occur even when the air isn't thick enough to see.
_Lead image from @eustatic's [work](/notes/Schroyer/11-23-2013/measure-coarse-and-fine-air-particulates-with-a-dustduino#c7711)_
According to the [EPA](http://cfpub.epa.gov/eroe/index.cfm?fuseaction=list.listBySubTopic&ch=46&s=343), Americans, on average, spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors, where the concentrations of some pollutants are often 2 to 5 times higher than typical outdoor concentrations. Most pollutants affecting indoor air quality come from sources inside buildings, although some originate outdoors. Typical pollutants of concern include **combustion products such as carbon monoxide, particulate matter, and environmental tobacco smoke; substances of natural origin such as radon; biological agents such as molds; pesticides; lead; asbestos; ozone (from some air cleaners); and various volatile organic compounds from a variety of products and materials**.
This is even more striking when the health eﬀects attributed to outdoor ﬁne [particulate matter (PM2.5)](/wiki/particle-sensing) rank among the risk factors with the highest health impacts in the world, annually [accounting for over 3.2 million premature deaths](http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es2025752). In October 2013, the World Health Organization [announced](http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/iarcnews/pdf/pr221_E.pdf) they are considering particulate matter, a major component of indoor and outdoor air pollution, as a Group 1 carcinogen along with tobacco smoke and asbestos.
For more, see this [excellent overview by Toxics Action Center](https://toxicsaction.org/resources/statistics-for-action/air-quality-options/)
###Example Air Pollution Regulations in Wisconsin:
| VIOLATIONS | RELEVANT PROVISION |
| Air pollution which is defined as the presence of smoke, dust, gases, fumes in the air. The presence of these substances must also lead to injury on humans, animals or plants as well as interfere with the enjoyment of life or one's property. | NR 400.02 |
| Fugitive dust. This refers to the presence in the air of dust from sources such as open fields and piles. There will be a violation on air quality when during handling, transporting and storing of materials, the people undertaking these activities do not take precaution and some of these materials end up being released into the air. | NR 415.04|
| Causing, allowing or permitting solid or liquid hazardous substances into the air. This includes dust, soot, pollen, smoke and liquid droplets. One can spot that violation by simply observing the ambient air. | NR. 415.05|
| Industrial sand mines that do not take precautions to ensure dust does not escape into the air. | NR 415.075|
## Particle Sensor Projects
Public Lab has initiated a [Particle Sensing Project](/wiki/particle-sensing) focused primarily on [Silica](/wiki/silica). This project overlaps with and includes the DustDuino and is coordinated on the [Air-Quality Google Group](/lists).
A variety of particle sensors have been posted on the site:
## Air quality projects
### U.S. EPA Standards and Test Methods
### National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS)
Section 109 of the Clean Air Act directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) requisite _to protect public health_ with an adequate margin of safety (primary standard) and _for the protection of public welfare_ (secondary standard). Section 109(d)(1) of the CAA requires EPA to complete a thorough review of the NAAQS at _5-year intervals_ and promulgate new standards when appropriate.
Complete details of the standards, measurement principles, and data interpreation, can be found in [Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 50](http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?tpl=/ecfrbrowse/Title40/40cfr50_main_02.tpl)
[Summary of the NAAQS Criteria Pollutants](http://www.epa.gov/air/criteria.html)
### EPA Test Methods
EPA approved instruments are designated as either a Federal Reference Method (FRM) or Federal Equivalent Methods (FEM). The complete list of approved instruments for NAAQS evaluating is provided on the EPA [Ambient Monitoring Technology Information Center (AMTIC) web site](http://www.epa.gov/ttn/amtic/criteria.html)
### Real Time Data
EPA and its State and Tribal partners publish near real-time air quality data (typically hourly updates) as well air quality _forecasts_ on the [AirNow web site](http://airnow.gov/).
The AirNow site also contains, links to [Visibility Cameras](http://www.airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=airnow.webcams), which are yet another way to evaluate air pollution.
Examples of clear and hazy days from [Boston HazeCam](http://www.hazecam.net/camsite.aspx?site=boston):
### Historical Data
Historical air quality test results are freely available through [EPA AirData](http://www.epa.gov/airdata/)
### EPA & Citizen Science Next Generation of Monitors
EPA has also been involved with [Next Generation Air Measuring (link may be deprecated)](http://epa.gov/research/airscience/next-generation-air-measuring.htm) and is currently offering its Citizen Science Toolbox Resources online https://www.epa.gov/air-sensor-toolbox:
- Air Sensor Guidebook;
- Air Sensor Technology: State of the Science Presentation;
- Mobile Sensors and Applications for Air Pollutants; and
- Sensor Evaluation Report.
## Other Resources for Air Quality Standards
The U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) and its **National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)** also offer a wealth of guidance. In particular, the [NIOSH Manual of Analytical Methods](http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2003-154/) is a collection of procedures for sampling and analysis of contaminants including workplace air.
The **Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)**, based in Atlanta, Georgia, is a federal public health agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Their [Toxicological Profiles](http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/index.asp#P), is particularly useful for when a pollutant can be identified by compound or element.
All wiki pages relating to air quality: