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Secaucus monitors air quality with flags above rec center

The flags can provide helpful cues to those sensitive to air pollution

The different colored flags indicate the air quality level. Image courtesy of the town.

Staring in May, Secaucus began raising brightly colored flags at the Recreation Center on Koelle Boulevard. That is because the town officially joined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Flag Program to help protect people’s health.

The purpose of the flags is to help the community be aware of daily air quality conditions. Recreation Department staff will raise a flag each day based on the color of the Air Quality Index (AQI) to show how polluted the air is expected to be.

By comparing the colored flags to the AQI, everyone who sees the flags will know what actions to take to protect their health. Green signals good air quality, yellow is moderate, orange means unhealthy for sensitive groups like children and people with asthma, and red signals unhealthy air for everyone.

A purple flag means the air quality is very unhealthy and sensitive groups should avoid all outdoor exertion while everyone else should limit outdoor exertion. The local air quality can affect peoples’ daily lives and it can change from day to day, season to season, and can even vary depending on the time of day.

The AQI provides information about the health effects of common air pollutants, and how to avoid those effects. The flags alert people to that day’s air quality, so they know when to modify their outdoor activities, like exercising for less time or moving exercise indoors when necessary.

This is especially helpful for those who are sensitive to the effects of air pollution, such as children, adults who are active outdoors, people with heart and lung disease, and older adults. For more information on the Air Quality Flag Program, visit EPA’s AirNow website at airnow.gov/flag.

“The Air Quality Flag Program is run through our Environmental Department,” Town Administrator Gary Jeffas told the Hudson Reporter. “We figured the rec center is a good place to put it. It’s really for people with asthmatic or lung conditions that are adversely affected by air pollution. Knowing what air quality it is that day, someone may choose to stay inside based on the warnings of those flags.”

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.

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