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In an effort to raise awareness about air quality, St. Rita Elementary School, 4433 Douglas Ave, will be flying colored flags representative of the U.S. EPA’s air quality forecast.

Checking the EPA website for the forecast daily, the students will alert the community to the local air quality forecast by raising the colored flag that matches the EPA’s air quality index.

If the air pollution levels are at an unhealthy range, the students with asthma can then take precautions and the teachers can then modify outdoor activities if needed.

Susan Hedman, administrator for the U.S. EPA region 5, principal Diana Lesnjak, and students from the elementary school today raised a green flag, which means that the air quality forecast is good.

“By flying one of EPA’s brightly colored flags each day, St. Rita Elementary School is helping to raise awareness about air quality to protect the health of students,” Hedman said.  “Children are more likely than adults to have asthma, which puts them at greater risk from air pollutants that can aggravate asthma symptoms.”

Lesnjak said the school is excited about the program.

“Our students participate in displaying the correct colored flag daily,” Lesnjak said. “The EPA School Flag Program provides an important community service in broadcasting air quality; and at the same time, it gives our school a great educational tool.  This is a simple idea and an attractive addition to our school program that benefits everyone in the area.”

The color of the flag matches EPA’s Air Quality Index: green, yellow, orange and red.  Green signals good air quality, yellow is moderate, orange means unhealthy air for sensitive groups (like children or adults with asthma) and red signals unhealthy air for everyone.

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Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.