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EPA Welcomes St. Rita Elementary School in Caledonia to Air Quality Flag Program to Protect Children’s Health

Release Date: 10/14/2014
Contact Information: Phillippa Cannon, 312-252-6218, cannon.phillippa@epa.gov (Media only)

CALEDONIA, WISCONSIN (Oct. 14, 2014) -- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman today welcomed St. Rita Elementary School in Caledonia, Wisconsin, to the Agency’s School Flag Program which alerts faculty, parents and students to the local air quality forecast to protect children’s health, especially children with asthma. Principal Diana Lesnjak and students joined Hedman to raise a green flag indicating today’s forecast for good air quality.

“By flying one of EPA’s brightly colored flags each day, St. Rita Elementary School is helping to raise awareness about air quality to protect the health of students,” Hedman said. “Children are more likely than adults to have asthma which puts them at greater risk from air pollutants that can aggravate asthma symptoms.”

“Students and staff of St. Rita’s School are excited and honored to fly the EPA air quality flag. Our students participate in displaying the correct colored flag daily,” Lesnjak said. “The EPA School Flag Program provides an important community service in broadcasting air quality; and at the same time, it gives our school a great educational tool. This is a simple idea and an attractive addition to our school program that benefits everyone in the area.”

Each day students at St. Rita check the air quality forecast for Racine on EPA’s AIRNow web site and then raise a flag. The color of the flag matches EPA's Air Quality Index: green, yellow, orange and red. Green signals good air quality, yellow is moderate, orange means unhealthy air for sensitive groups (like children or adults with asthma) and red signals unhealthy air for everyone.

Flags help teachers know when to modify outdoor activities, which may include shortening exercise or moving exercise indoors when necessary to protect students’ health. The flags also can help students with asthma take precautions when the air pollution levels are in an unhealthy range.

More information on the School Flag Program is available on EPA’s AIRNow website: www.airnow.gov/schoolflag.