Asthma Flags — An Idea Whose Time Has Come

Ken AshfordHealth CareLeave a Comment

Flag_raisingSomeone’s got their thinking cap on:

Those with asthma or allergies can now look to the nearest flagpole to find out how aggravating the outdoors will be for the day.

Color-coded flags will fly at seven middle schools and several businesses around the county to alert residents on the state of the air, thanks to the Alamance Child Asthma Coalition. The Alamance-Caswell Medical Alliance funded the Air Quality Flag Program.

You can also see a flag outside the Environmental Health and Cooperative Extension offices on Graham-Hopedale Road.

Flag colors are based on an air-quality index indicating the level of ozone, particles and other pollutants in the air. It was a green day in the Triad on Monday, which means air quality was good.

Yellow means moderate air quality and orange means unhealthy for sensitive groups, while red and purple mean unhealthy and very unhealthy air, respectively.

Some flags are up already and the rest should be later this week, said Kelley Kimrey of the Alamance County Health Department, a member of the coalition.

The forecasts come from the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources, which typically reports on air indexes from May to October.

Children are especially vulnerable to the effects of air pollution. A report released by Environment North Carolina and other groups last year estimates that air pollution causes 50 infant deaths, 1,500 emergency room visits by children with asthma, 100,000 child asthma attacks, and 300,000 missed school days every year in North Carolina.