Raise Awareness of Outdoor Air Risks

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We are surrounded by air, but we can’t always see when it’s dirty. The air pollutants and toxins that dirty the air can cause adverse health effects for students and school staff.

Schools can reduce student and staff exposure to poor quality air by taking steps to raise awareness about the importance of outdoor air quality. Initiatives on school campuses have been started around the country to do this. Programs range from raising a flag each day (green, yellow, orange, red, or purple) to represent how clean the air is for that day to implementing no idling campaigns and asking all drivers to pledge to reduce their idling time.

Get started

  • Work with front office staff, teachers, or coaches to start an outdoor air quality awareness program.
  • Start a flag program at your school:
    • Find/ create/ purchase the flags for use by your school.
    • Educate the school and the community about what the flags mean.
    • Check local air quality conditions.
    • Take action when the air quality is unhealthy.
  • Start a no idling campaign by raising awareness.
    • Post flyers around the school where drivers can easily see and send home brochures for parents and staff to learn about the adverse health effects to poor air quality and pollutants produced by car idling.
    • Have each school driver (delivery truck drivers, bus drivers, staff and parents) sign a pledge to turn off their car after 10 seconds of idling.
    • Get students involved by producing “tickets” for cars sitting in idle for longer than 10 seconds and teaching them the environmental and health effects of idling.

Additional resources

Project showcase

Cordova Middle School in Cordova, Tennessee

“SCS Idle Free Schools is an idling reduction campaign for schools to reduce student exposure to toxic vehicle exhaust. This a student-run science/community involvement project, providing students with the opportunity to learn how to run a public service campaign while advocating for a cleaner, greener environment. We partnered with the Shelby County Health Department Air Pollution Control, and their supervisor shared with our idle free team the air quality initiatives their office provides throughout our city and county. The STEM instructor and the school principal served as the idle free team sponsors, assembling the team for training and helping facilitate the project to success.”