Green Government: Would An Air Quality Flag System Fly in Your Town?

Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to our health.

This is especially true for kids and adults with asthma.

On days with poor air quality, people with asthma and other respiratory conditions can take care of themselves better by limiting outdoor air exposure and limited exertion.

So why not help communities keep their citizen informed? Like, say, by flying brightly colored indicator flags over schools and municipal buildings.

Sort of like how beaches post “Rough Surf” warning flags to advise swimmers of  dangerous conditions.

That’s where the EPA is going with their School Flag Program. This initiative is designed to help children, parents, school personnel and the community be aware of daily air quality conditions using brightly colored flags.

Each day, a flag is raised in front of participating schools that signals the level of air pollution for that day. By comparing the colored flags to the Air Quality Index (AQI), members of the school and the surrounding community can tell what the daily air quality is, and adjust their activities to reduce their exposure to air pollution. Green indicates good air quality, yellow is moderate, orange means unhealthy for sensitive groups (like children and those with asthma), and red signals unhealthy air for everyone.

But let me ask you…would your town go for it?

Could your public officials and business community stand the sight of a daily reminder of whether the air in your town is safe to breathe?

Especially if you lived in a town near an incineration plant or chemical refinery?

Your officials might well care, and care deeply, but feel limited in their ability to do anything about it.

Pardon the pun, but my cynical Jersey-native nose says this program doesn’t pass the smell test.

I wonder how many NJ schools participate in this program?

I hope I’m wrong and learn that this program is being well-received and helping communities work for better, clearer, safer air everyday.

I’ll update once I hear back from the EPA coordinator.

Learn more: EPA School Flag Program