Air Quality

We’ve been mapping air quality with Street View cars since 2014. On June 5th, with our partners EDF and Aclima, we're announced the results of this effort for the City of Oakland and making the data available to scientist and researchers.

Air Quality Mapping

Every day we use data about the world around us to make decisions. One useful dataset is air pollution data, which contains much-needed information that can help us understand how to live healthier lives, build smarter and more sustainable cities, and reduce climate-changing greenhouse gases in both urban and rural areas.

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On June 5, 2017, with our partners at Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Aclima, we shared the first results of an endeavor we started in 2015: to measure air quality using Aclima’s platform on Google Street View cars. You can now see maps for Oakland, CA, released by EDF, of nitric oxide (NO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and black carbon—pollutants emitted from cars, trucks and other sources that can affect our health and our climate.


Black carbon particles come from burning fuel, especially diesel, wood and coal. High exposure is associated with heart attacks, stroke and some forms of cancer. Air quality data from Google/Aclima; analysis by Apte et al/EDF. Colors on the map do not correlate to colors on the Air Quality Index. See more at edf.org/airqualitymaps.

We hope Bay Area residents use this resource to explore air quality in Oakland, and find out how you can do your part to improve it. Scientists can request access to the validated data now. You can also learn more about the science behind these maps in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, by a scientific team led by Dr. Joshua Apte, at the University of Texas-Austin.

Today’s news follows our 2014 project with EDF to map methane leaks, and our 2015 announcement with Aclima to map air quality in Los Angeles, San Francisco and the Central Valley communities. We’re excited to continue our work to map more pollutants, and to share the data with researchers.

With nearly 3 million measurements and 14,000 miles captured in the course of a year, this is one of the largest air quality datasets ever published, and demonstrates the potential of neighborhood-level air quality mapping. This map makes the invisible, visible, so that we can breathe better and live healthier. It helps us understand how clean (or not clean) our air is, so that we can make changes to improve it.

Methane Mapping

For the past few years, Google Earth Outreach has worked with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) to map thousands of methane leaks from natural gas lines under select U.S. city streets using Street View cars equipped with methane analyzers. In 2016, one of the largest U.S. utilities, PSE&G announced that they used data and maps from our Street View mapping effort to prioritize the replacement of gas mains, as part of their approved multi-million dollar pipeline replacement program. This enabled them to reduce methane emissions from targeted areas by 83 percent, by replacing 35 percent fewer miles of pipe than if the utility had not used the data. See EDF's site (which goes into the bigger picture of what this means), and see the scientific work that has been published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.