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Air Quality Flag Program


Air Quality Flag Program

Revised On: March 26, 2024 - 11:00 a.m.

Helping Communities Become More Air Aware

ADEQ's Air Quality Flag Program promotes a healthy environment for our children, workers, family, friends and neighbors by providing Arizona communities with resources to inform residents about:

  • Local outdoor air quality conditions
  • How air pollution impacts health
  • Actions we can take to protect ourselves
  • Ways we can improve the quality of the air we breathe

The program is especially important for children, including teens, and those with asthma or other respiratory illnesses, whose risk of experiencing health issues from air pollution is greater.

How Does It Work?

The program provides participating facilities with educational materials and colored flags that notify communities about local air quality conditions and correspond with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA's) Air Quality Index (AQI). By sharing educational materials with residents and flying the flags in a visible spot, the facilities help alert people to that particular day’s air quality, so they know when and how to modify their outdoor activities.

Who Can Participate?

  • Schools,​ after-school/early-childcare facilities
  • Environmental education centers
  • Community health centers
  • Fire departments, parks and recreation centers, tribes, and businesses

How to Participate

Upon approval from your organization to participate, contact the Flag Program Coordinator at ADEQ to register and request flags. You will receive four flags (green, yellow, orange and red) at no cost. 

Choose a date to begin flying your flags, and inform students, staff, contractors and the community of the date. Train facility personnel about the Air Quality Index, the Flag Program and actions to take on days when air quality is unhealthy, so they can help administer the program, and make announcements to the community through newsletters, emails, flyers and other communication routes. You can also notify members of the larger community through a local newspaper, newsletter or radio station. (See Flag Colors & Recommended Activities)

Work with staff to designate roles and responsibilities each day. According to the schedule you set, assign someone at your facility to check the daily air quality forecast and to raise the corresponding color flag that shows the current day’s Air Quality Index (AQI) color in a visible spot. View today's air quality forecast for your area | View >

Each day, raise the current AQI color flag in a visible spot and follow guidance to help keep your community healthy.

Flag Colors & Recommended Activity

Flags posted at participating schools and/or community organizations match AQI’s colors, indicating the amount of pollution in the air and any possible associated health effects experienced within a few hours or days after breathing polluted air. ADEQ forecasts the AQI for three major air pollutants regulated by the Clean Air Act: ground-level ozone and particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5)  | Learn More >

For each of these pollutants, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established National Air Quality Standards to protect public health and the flag’s purpose is to protect the greater at-risk population.

Green — Air quality is good. Weather permitting, it's a great day to be active outside.

Yellow — Air quality is fair, but may be a health concern to those who are unusually sensitive to air pollution. Watch for symptoms and reduce prolonged outdoor exertion.

Orange — Air quality is approaching unhealthy. Sensitive people, including children, older adults, pregnant women and those with heart or lung disease should take more breaks, lower outdoor activity intensity and watch for symptoms.

Red — Air quality is unhealthy. Take more breaks, shorten outdoor activities or choose less-intense activities. Consider rescheduling longer or more intense outdoor activities or moving them indoors.

Common symptoms to look out for are irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, including coughing, chest tightness and shortness of breath. You may need to take breaks, choose less-intense outdoor activities (e.g., walking instead of running), or move activities indoors. Air pollution may also make asthma symptoms worse and trigger attacks. Those with asthma should follow their asthma action plan and keep quick-relief medicine handy on moderate to unhealthy days.