Air Quality Fundamentals

Thanks for your interest in clean air!  

On this page you will find information on the following:    

  • What is Air Quality?
  • What is the Connection between Air Pollution and Health Impacts?
  • What can I do to Improve Air Quality in my Home and Community?

Air quality is a reflection of how much pollution is in our air at any given time. Every day, the San Diego County Air Pollution Control District (SDAPCD) uses air quality monitors to detect specific pollutants throughout San Diego County. Daily air quality reports are based in part on how much pollution is detected by these monitors.  

Air quality is measured with the Air Quality Index (AQI). It looks a bit like a thermometer, but instead of temperature, it indicates how much pollution is in the air and corresponding safe levels of outside physical activity. 

Check the current AQI in your region of San Diego.

Higher amounts of air pollution can have negative health effects. San Diego County residents that are frequently exposed to air pollutants can develop problems with breathing, heart, and blood vessel function, as well as worsening existing medical conditions. Learn more about the specific types of air pollution: diesel particulate matter (DPM), particulate matter (PM), ozone, hydrogen sulfide, volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), and how they affect your health and the health of our environment here.  

Secondhand Smoke 

Secondhand smoke contributes to air pollution and can have negative effects on your health. SDAPCD does not have the authority to regulate secondhand smoke, but we understand it is a concern for community members. SDAPCD connected with Vista Community Clinic to share materials that may help you navigate secondhand smoke exposure (explore the links below). 

Report Air Quality Concerns to SDAPCD. 

If you notice what you believe is asbestos, dust, idling, open burning, odor, smoke, unpermitted/non-compliant equipment/operations, a gasoline dispensing facility of concern, or any other issue you think may be affecting the quality of your air, you can report them using our app, located in the apple store or google play. You can also report air quality concerns by phone at (858) 586-2650 or e-mail at For after-hours concerns, please call (858) 586-2650 and select option 2. For more information visit our air quality complaint page. 

Check Daily Air Quality Index (AQI) and make decisions about activities. 

Each day the SDAPCD team assigns a AQI score to determine the quality of the air throughout San Diego County. The AQI score is based on 8 monitoring sites in San Diego County, located in: Alpine, Chula Vista, Downtown, El Cajon, Escondido, Kearny Mesa, Oceanside, and Otay Mesa. Check the daily air quality closest to you and learn if it’s a good day to be active outside. For more information about AQI, visit SDAPCD’s air quality information and links page.  

Install air purifiers or high-quality air filters on heating and cooling systems. 

Installing air purifiers or high-quality air filters on heating and cooling systems helps improve the quality of air indoors and reduces negative health impacts associated with pollution. Check to see if there are any current incentive programs for free or reduced-price air filters on our Community Programs page.  

Advocate for policies and planning that support cleaner air. 

Make your voice heard! By attending governing board meetings and voicing your opinions to the SDAPCD you can advocate for increased incentive funding, public transportation, air quality education, and green space in the San Diego County region. Sharing your input also helps ensure industry related sources of air pollution, such as factories and power plants, are not located near homes and schools. At the state level, you can advocate for policy changes surrounding air quality issues and request stricter policy to reduce poor air quality by commenting on the California Air Resources Board (CARB) board items.