Air Quality Flag Program

The Air Quality Flag Program is a great way to teach people about local air quality, how air pollution impacts health, actions we can take to protect ourselves and ways to reduce polluting activities. Successful in Maricopa, Pinal, Yuma and Santa Cruz counties, the program uses nautical-style flags to notify the public of air quality conditions based on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Air Quality Index (AQI).

The flags match AQI’s warning levels, indicating the amount of pollution in the air and any possible associated health effects experienced within a few hours or days after breathing polluted air. ADEQ and some local districts calculate the AQI for four major air pollutants regulated by the Clean Air Act: ground-level ozone, PM10, PM2.5 and carbon monoxide. For each of these pollutants, the EPA has established National Air Quality Standards to protect public health.

The purpose of this program is to raise public awareness of outdoor air quality conditions so people may modify their behavior to reduce exposure to pollutants. Since children (including teenagers) are at greater risk of experiencing decreased lung function due to air pollution, reducing exposure to the outdoors during more dangerous days is a simple means of protection. 

What Do The Flag Colors Mean?

Flags are posted at participating schools and/or community centers in an area visible to the public. They represent different pollutants depending on the time of the year. From April through October, the flags are for ozone, and from October to March, the flags are for particulate matter pollution. If a warning is issued for both ozone and particulates, the flag’s purpose is to protect the greater at-risk population.

GreenAir quality is good.

YellowAir quality is acceptable, but there might be health concerns for some of the population.

OrangeAir quality is unhealthy for sensitive groups, including people with lung or cardiac disease, children, outdoor athletes and older adults.

RedAir quality is unhealthy. Everybody may begin to feel some health effects. Outdoor activity should be limited for all children, and sensitive individuals should stay indoors.

Start A Flag Program At Your School