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Know your environment, know your air

The 2024 Air Quality Awareness Week theme is “Know Your Air.”

A small white metal cannister (a PurpleAir Monitor) nailed to a wall.

A PurpleAir Monitor.


It is important to know the air quality around your home, school, or workplace, and the impact it can have your health and the environment. Knowing more about your air quality can help you protect yourself and your family when air quality is poor. Air monitor and sensor data is one tool that can provide real-time information about air quality in your area. 

Air sensors may be used by individual citizens, community groups, municipalities, industry, or health agencies to enhance information available from other sources. The Purple Air site provides air sensor data for particulate levels in areas around the sensors. These sensors can be placed in any location that has an available power source and Wi-Fi. It is important to note that these sensors can be affected by things like recreational fires, smoking, or small engines like a lawnmower.

Air monitoring station located in Houghton Lake

Air monitoring station located in Houghton Lake.


Air monitors are different than sensors. They can be more sophisticated, measure more pollutants, and are used to looking at long-term and regional trends. Michigan has a network of monitors and sensors, located throughout the state that provides air quality information on air pollutants ozone, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, fine particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10), and lead. Other pollutants are also measured, such as trace metals, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), black carbon, and carbonyls (such as formaldehyde). This monitoring is used to compare the results to health protective standards set by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA). Real-time data for some pollutants can be found at

For those looking to increase their air quality knowledge, the EPA Air Quality Awareness Toolkit provides information on some of the resources that are available.