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Metro Public Health Department and Metro Nashville Public Schools Raise the Flag on Air Quality Awareness

2/3/2020

Rose Park Magnet Math and Science Middle School is among five STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) to begin raising a brightly colored flag to help their students, staff and members of the community be aware of daily air quality conditions. Students at Rose Park Middle School will present the air quality flags and a student-made art installation to promote clean air on Thursday, February 6 at 1:30pm.

The Metro Public Health Department and MNPS are participating in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Flag Program to help protect people’s health from outdoor air pollution.

Each morning participating schools will raise a flag based on the color of the Air Quality Index (AQI) to show the expected amount of air pollution for that day. The AQI does not include the amount of pollen in the air. By comparing the colored flags to the AQI, everyone who sees the flags will know what actions to take to protect their health. Green signals good air quality, yellow is moderate, orange means unhealthy for sensitive groups (like children and people with asthma), and red signals unhealthy air for everyone. A purple flag means the air quality is very unhealthy and sensitive groups should avoid all outdoor exertion while everyone else should limit outdoor exertion.

Our local air quality can affect our daily lives. And it can change from day to day, season to season, and can even vary depending on the time of day. The AQI provides information about the health effects of common air pollutants, and how to avoid those effects. The flags alert people to that day’s air quality, so they know when to modify their outdoor activities, like exercising for less time or moving exercise indoors when necessary.

Rose Park Magnet Math and Science Middle School recently adopted the Air Quality Flag Program created by the EPA, and the purpose of this event is to explain to the community what the flags represent and why the program is important. Students working with the program said, “As Nashville continues to grow, it is important to monitor the air quality daily, as we are doing with this flag program, to make sure this growth is happening in a way that is healthy for all of Nashville’s citizens now and in the future.”

Rose Park Magnet Math and Science Middle School join J.T. Moore Middle School, Madison Middle School, Stratford STEM Lower Campus, Whitsitt Elementary School and 16 other MNPS schools already participating in the program.

Getting up-to-date air quality information is easy by subscribing at www.enviroflash.info or downloading the AirNow app. You can get the daily air quality forecast sent to your email, cell phone or Twitter. This is especially helpful for those who are sensitive to the effects of air pollution, such as children, adults who are active outdoors, people with heart and lung disease, and older adults.

For more information on the Air Quality Flag Program visit EPA’s AirNow website at www.airnow.gov/flag. The Metro Public Health Department’s website offers the daily air quality forecast for the Nashville area at health.nashville.gov.

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