Air quality flag hopes to bring awareness to Imperial

A green flag indicating the air quality for the day hangs outside of Imperial High School. AMAYA CLINE PHOTO

Air pollution has become a huge topic in today’s society. The Imperial Valley has some of the worst air quality and many residents do not know about it.

According to Respira Sano, an asthma education group, “Approximately 23,000 children and adults have been diagnosed with asthma.”

It has become so overlooked that without knowledge of how poor the quality of air is, the Imperial Valley may become even worse and there will be no way to stop it.

This is why a program has surfaced since January 2014 and is said to end December 2016. The Air Quality Flag Program is open to schools who want the community to be aware of the air quality in the area.

It helps as guidance for the community to have an idea of what the air quality is for the day. There are five different-colored flags that categorize the state of the air for the day — green is good, yellow is moderate, orange is unhealthy for sensitive groups, red is unhealthy and purple is very unhealthy.

There are currently 10 schools in the Imperial Valley that have adopted the program and are putting up the flags each day. David Shaw, vice principal at Imperial High School has been in charge of coordinating this program and putting up the flags in accordance to the daily air quality.

“The flag will give (the community) an idea of how the air is. It will be an important matter for kids that have asthma,” Shaw said. “I believe it will serve as a good tool to be aware of the air that is in our area.”

The program is organized by several statewide entities including San Diego State University. Esther Bejarano, SDSU program manager, is responsible for relaying daily air quality information to local communities and schools throughout California.

“I love informing and helping the community,” Bejarano states. “You have to know the community in order to have a connection with the people.”

Bejarano explained that in order for the community to improve on the air quality, people must start receiving alerts of the air during the day. It will help parents who have children with health conditions that are affected by the air. They must also start to carpool to reduce pollution.

The flag has caught the attention of Imperial High senior Rebecca Guerrero.

“The air pollution is getting out of hand. Hearing so many topics about it should mean that everybody should start to change some of their habits in order to protect our Earth and our air.”

To learn more about the air quality around the Imperial Valley go to www.imperialvalleyair.org and www.airnow.gov/flag

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