For those who need to get around when air quality is poor, new technology will enable them to use the route that is safest for their health.
Airways, a new map-based app launched Monday at the start of Climate Week in New York City, will provide cleaner-air routes for travelers within New York City.
Air quality in major cities has deteriorated in recent decades for various reasons, including additional pollution from a growing population as well as impacts associated with climate change, such as an increase in large wildfires and seasons with higher pollen counts, says Purvi Parikh, an allergist and immunologist. . at NYU Langone Health, told ABC News.
Air pollution is the fourth leading cause of death globally, causing nearly 7 million deaths in 2019, according to research by State of Global Air, which publishes a report card on air pollution exposure and its effects on human health.
Parikh said that constant exposure to polluted air increases inflammation in the body, and can cause short-term symptoms such as itching, watery eyes, nasal congestion, headache, shortness of breath, coughing and skin irritation.
Vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, very young or pregnant women, and those with pre-existing conditions such as asthma, chronic lung or heart disease or allergies, can suffer on days with poor air quality, Parikh said. Taking alternative approaches can prevent symptoms from getting worse.
“They can prioritize their health by choosing those routes with clean air,” she said.
Additionally, those who are concerned about traveling when air quality is poor should limit their time outside to what is absolutely necessary and wear a medical mask, such as N95 or KN95 masks, Parikh said. If possible, they should also run a HEPA air purifier indoors.
The easy-to-use map highlights the intersections between air pollution and pollen along city roads, providing information to users that essentially outlines a route to travel with cleaner air, as well as which routes to avoid.
After entering a start and end destination, the tool populates the least pollution path based on the real-time air quality index (AQI) and levels of common pollens, such as ash, grass, and ragweed. Users can then fill in the cleanest route in Google Map or Apple Map to navigate to their destination.
“It’s as simple as if you wanted to walk from one point to another or you wanted to bike from one point to another,” Ambi co-founder Jaideep Singh told ABC News.
The app, a partnership between the environmental intelligence agency Ambee and Allegra, the allergy drug company, will launch a pilot platform in New York City this week and will continue to roll out the technology in locations across the United States in 2024, Singh said.
The innovators behind the airlines believe the technology will enable people to prioritize their health by choosing routes with cleaner air.
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