Flag Program: Reducing Exposures to Air Pollution in the Imperial Valley, U.S.-Mexico Border Region

Timeframe:  2010 to Present

Imperial County has the highest rate of childhood asthma hospital admissions in California.

In 2003, children 0 –14 years old were admitted to the hospital more than three times the state average.  A recent assessment of five schools in Imperial County found that none of them had a program in place to actively respond to bad air quality days.  In 2004, Impact Assessment, in partnership with the Merced/Mariposa County Asthma Coalition and the Department of Public Health implemented the Air Quality Flag Program to help school officials prepare for bad air quality days and protect sensitive students from exposure to unhealthy air. 

Each day, the schools post a flag to indicate the air quality index. IAI staff developed a curriculum for use in five schools, providing outreach to teachers and parents, training school staff, and updating their curricula with new modules. 

The program has been replicated in eight counties in the Central Valley, with over 1,000 schools enrolled.