Illinois Air Quality Flag Program

In 2013, Illinois Partners for Clean Air adapted the Illinois Air Quality Flag Program to create public awareness of outdoor air quality conditions. High levels of air pollution place citizen health at risk, especially children, the elderly, and people with respiratory or cardiovascular ailments.

Modeled after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s School Flag Program, the Illinois Air Quality Flag Program is Illinois specific. Participating schools and businesses raise a colored flag each day reflecting their local air quality forecast according to the Air Quality Index.

Why was the Illinois Air Quality Flag Program developed?

The purpose of this program is to create public awareness of outdoor air quality conditions. Elevated levels of air pollution, this puts all of us at risk, especially children, the elderly, and people with respiratory or cardiovascular ailments.

What is the Air Quality Index?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency developed the Air Quality Index as a guide for reporting daily air quality. The Air Quality Index indicates how clean or polluted the air is and identifies health effects.

How can I get involved?

Illinois Partners for Clean Air invites Northeastern Illinois schools and businesses to participate in the Illinois Air Quality Flag Program. Appoint primary and secondary Flag Program Coordinators to sign-up and receive daily local air quality forecasts and fly the corresponding flag along with other national, state, or school/corporate flags.

Illinois Partners for Clean Air provides schools Illinois Air Quality Flag Program Kits at no cost. Participating businesses must pay $100 for the total cost of their kit. Kits contain: five Air Quality color-coded flags, educational materials, and a Flag Program Coordinator Guide. Interested schools and businesses should complete the registration form  located under the Registration tab and submit it to pfca@cleantheair.org.


What do the colors mean?

The flags use five varying colors to indicate the daily air quality. Each flag color represents the scale value of pollutants in the air based on the Air Quality Index.

The air quality standards were recently tightened; therefore, we may see more days in the yellow/orange category this summer.

Good (Green): Air quality is considered satisfactory and poses little or no risk.
Moderate (Yellow): Air quality is acceptable. Some pollutants may cause a moderate health concern for people who are sensitive to air pollution.
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups (Orange): Members of sensitive groups may experience health effects. Sensitive groups include children, the elderly, people with cardiovascular or respiratory disorders (including asthma), and individuals who exercise outdoors. The general public is likely unaffected.
Unhealthy (Red): Everyone may experience health effects. Members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects.
Very Unhealthy (Purple): Health alert: Everyone may experience serious health effects.

How can I find my daily air quality?

Check the daily air quality to stay safe and healthy by looking at the flag pole.
Get the daily air quality forecasts. You control the type of forecasts you receive and the frequency in which you receive them. Be healthy and stay alert.

Troubleshooting the Illinois Air Quality Flag Program

Are you having difficulty with your school’s flag program or have a general flag program question? Check out our troubleshooting guide to resolve problems and/or answer questions.


Contact Illinois Partners for Clean Air for further flag program assistance or questions.