Do you have a story that you would like to see on the blog? Share it with us. Email Glynn Brothen, program coordinator, at and your story could become part of the Air Quality Flag Program blog. Each participating school can share daily comments focused on air quality and experiences introducing the program to students, teachers, staff and families.


Take advantage of a good air day!

Posted by on 1:54 pm in News | 0 comments

Air Quality Flags help us learn more about the effect air quality has on our health. The flag colours – blue in particular – remind us to get active on good air quality days, which are frequently recorded in BC.

Each day, students log in to their school page on to raise the Air Quality Flag – sharing what kind of air day it is in their community. The school page has a blog, which students can use to share their thoughts on the day itself, or the topic of air quality.

How students use the blog is up to them. Students in Brentwood Bay, BC, use it to share the kinds of daily activities they take part in on the playground.

Here are some posts from the Brentwood Elementary blog:

“Today is a blue flag day. It is 5.1 degrees Celsius. It is a good day to get moving and have fun. You could play soccer or baseball. It is a cloudy day in Brentwood Bay.”

“8.7 degrees Celsius today. No rain for once!!!! It’s a great day to play capture the flag or manhunt outside.”

“It’s a grey, cloudy, rainy day in Brentwood Bay today. At 4.1 degrees Celsius, it’s a great day to get hot chocolate. Let’s get outside and play soccer, rugby or ride our bikes in the rain!”

The colour of the flag you raise each day depends on the air quality – but what activities you choose to do is up to you. When it’s a blue flag day, everyone can get active outside.

Here are some activities you can do to take advantage of on a good air day:

Add wheels to the mix: Whether it’s riding bikes, scooters, or skateboards – remember to wear a helmet and elbow/knee pads!

Take advantage of the snow: Stay warmer outside through active play – build a snow man or go tobogganing!

Play catch: Use a baseball, Frisbee – even a boomerang!

Try a traditional game: Croquet and bocce are not all that common – give them a try!

Appreciate nature: Ask your parents to take you out on a hike – climb a local mountain, or bird-watch with friends.

On grey, brown, or red flag days – take it easy: Go for a walk, fly a kite, or ask your parents to teach you how to plant flowers in a garden.

What activities do you like to take part in on a good air day? You can blog to share your activities on your school page.

If you’re a visitor and want to make a suggestion, or would like to learn more about the program – send me an email

Have fun and stay safe!



Air Quality: Fact or Fiction?

Posted by on 8:38 am in News | 0 comments

Learning something new always raises a few questions. As students learn more about air quality – it’s a great time to consider some common thoughts about the air and whether they are, indeed, facts.

Air quality isn’t as bad during the winter.
  Cooler air in winter can trap pollutants. Winter months are known as inversion months. Inversion is caused by warmer air moving over cooler, denser air, which stays trapped – keeping the cooler air closer to the earth’s surface. When that happens, particles in the air have a harder time dispersing (spreading) and stay closer to the ground, too. Inversions can continue for hours – even days.

Temperature affects air quality.
Fact: Temperature plays a role in the quality of the air. During hotter days in the summer, for example, the air closer to the earth’s surface can be much warmer than the air above. Sometimes large volumes of this warm air will rise and mix with the air farther away from the earth’s surface. When a small amount of polluted air mixes with a large amount of clean air, it can help disperse the pollution – leading to cleaner air.

The rain washes the air.
Fact: Rain can “wash” the dirt away.  Precipitation, especially rain, improves air quality by capturing particles and dissolving gases on its way to the earth’s surface.

I live next to a park – the air must be good.
Fact:  Particles in the air travel.
  Tiny particles in the air have the ability to travel for long distances because of the wind. Air pollution doesn’t stop at country borders. If a large fire or natural disaster is making the air more polluted in one place, those particles can travel to other places and impact the air quality there, too – even across oceans!

Wind, temperature, precipitation and topography, individually and together, can all impact air quality. If you live in a valley, surrounded by mountains – sometimes air can get trapped in that area.  Wind can help disperse pollution (make it spread) and rain can help improve air quality.

Since air pollution is usually invisible to the naked eye, the Air Quality Flags help tell us what kind of air day it is – to help students, teachers, and parents think about air, its connection to health, and how to be better stewards of the air.

Need more answers? Write to me – and I will work to find them for you.


Source: BC Ministry of Environment website

What colour is the flag today?

Posted by on 10:41 am in News | 0 comments

What colour is the flag in your community today? Chances are it is probably blue.

Each day as students raise their Air Quality Flag, they are finding that the blue flag is the most common of all four. Given that British Columbia has good air quality most of the time, the frequency of a blue flag should not come as a surprise.

The important thing to remember about the Air Quality Flag Program is that the flags are designed to help school communities understand the relationship between air and health. Knowing that encourages awareness of the air quality in case it does change and can help some people adjust their outdoor activity levels accordingly.

Having a blue flag is something to celebrate; not every place in the world has air as clean as BC.

If you’re participating in the Air Quality Flag Program and you or your students are looking for ways to continue learning about air quality, here are some ways to keep it top of mind:

  • Share, Share, Share: Sometimes we learn about something better when we’re teaching it to others. Do you know another class that you could share the program with? Pass the program on and let other students in your school raise the Air Quality Flags.
  • New activities: Take a look at the resources page to get a feel for the different activities available. Whether you’re looking for something that is curriculum-based or is more hands-on, there is something for everyone.
  • Keep it current: Students at Chase River Elementary keep their Air Quality Flags close by when the school running club practices.

Is there an outdoor sports event coming up at your school? How about a track meet or a soccer game? Raise the flag on the sidelines and let attendees know what kind of air day it is. This would be a great leadership opportunity for students to explain what the flags mean to someone who has never heard of the program.

  • Compare and contrast: What is the air quality like in other parts of Canada? Abroad? A blue flag may be common in BC, but air quality is different in other places. Take a look at the following links:
    • Airhealth: Choose a different community in Canada to see what the air quality is like there
    • State of the Air: The American Lung Association puts out this list each year which ranks American cities from best air quality to worst air quality
    • Set a Google news alert for “air quality” ; you’ll receive daily news stories on the topic

Have any more ideas? Send me an email:

I look forward to hearing from you,


Schools get creative in second week of Air Quality Flag Program

Posted by on 11:08 am in News | 0 comments

Just two weeks into the Air Quality Flag Program and our participating schools and students are reporting the unique ways they’re using the program to learn more about air quality and health.

Two students at Barriere Elementary are planning their science fair project alongside their class lessons on air quality.  At Peden Hill Elementary in Prince George, students with asthma are using the flags as their own personal guide for how hard to play outside during recess and lunch. For the running club at Nanaimo’s Chase River Elementary, the flags are now part of their planning for running days.

Once the flag is raised at school, lots of students are then sharing their thoughts through class conversation and online through their school blog.  Some are using their blog to comment on the day’s weather report along with Air Quality Health Index report – developing a great habit of checking the weather and the quality of the air.

Beyond raising the flags, how schools adapt this program is up to them. Coordinators and classes at each school have found what works best for their community when it comes to getting the message out about Air Quality Flags. If you want to see what other schools are writing about – take a look at the other participating schools.

Would you like to learn more about the Air Quality Flag Program? Your school could take part in future programs. Send me a note to tell me about ideas for your school!



Air Quality Flag Program Begins in British Columbia

Posted by on 11:06 am in News | 0 comments

A new year always marks a new chapter. For a dozen elementary schools in B.C., it marks the beginning of a program about air quality and our health; the first of its kind in Canada.

The Air Quality Flag Program is unique – developed to teach elementary students in B.C. about air quality and how to monitor it, along with suggested actions on protecting health when the air quality is poor.

Students are now setting up their flag poles as they prepare to report the air quality in their community. The program allows participating schools  to raise an air quality flag corresponding to the day’s Air Quality Health Index.

Finding a specific location for the flag pole has been a fun exercise for participating classes — children are trying to determine where the Air Quality Flag will receive the most attention. Meanwhile, teachers have shown our short, informative video and have added air quality activities to their lesson plans. To our participating schools, congratulations on starting 2014 off by learning something new!


More than 1,000 BC students to be part of the Air Quality Flag Program

Posted by on 1:28 pm in News | 0 comments

As the holiday season approaches there are a few preparations left before starting the Air Quality Flag Program. Schools are receiving their set of Air Quality Flags, while teachers and school staff have been learning more about the program through short seminars.

In early January, more than 1,000 elementary students in 12 British Columbia schools will learn about air quality, its connection to health and the Air Quality Health Index through the Air Quality Flag Program.

There is representation from schools across BC with schools in Prince George and Williams Lake, throughout the Lower Mainland, the Thompson Okanagan and on Vancouver Island.

Our province enjoys clean air most of the time, but city to city, air quality conditions can differ. This program will help raise awareness of local air quality among school communities, increase understanding about actions people can take during times of poor air quality, and encourage actions to help protect the air.

Is one of your New Year’s resolutions to promote a healthy lifestyle? Or maybe it’s to get in shape? Air quality goes hand-in-hand with both of those goals. It’s great to be active outdoors and also beneficial to know what kind of air day it is. If your resolution is to lead a greener lifestyle – take a look at our program’s stewardship actions to see what you can do to keep the air clean.

In the meantime, enjoy a happy holiday season.



BC schools choose creative ways to introduce Air Quality Flags

Posted by on 1:52 pm in News | 0 comments

Weather is always a topical subject. If you’re trying to have a conversation with someone you don’t know well, talk about weather and you’ll always get a response.

But what about air?

Air doesn’t carry the same relevance as weather. Not many people think about or discuss what kind of “air day” it is next to the water cooler at work or at school, unless there is something significant happening such as a forest fire. We generally can’t see it, and we can’t touch it, which makes it easier to forget about, most of the time.

Yet air quality affects all of us. And there’s no time like the present to start talking about it.

Children are considered to be a sensitive group when it comes to air pollution. They’re growing, playing outdoors, and they’re taking bigger and deeper breaths compared to adults.

We’re excited to be working with principals, teachers, and parents from schools across the province to introduce the Air Quality Flag Program to students and raise awareness about the connection between air and health.

Each school has chosen to share the Air Quality Flags in slightly different ways:  some schools have “green teams,” who are leading the program, while others have teachers linking it to lessons on weather and air. One principal I spoke with wanted her leadership students to teach the school community about air quality. These phone calls taught me that no two schools are alike when it comes to learning something new. There are many creative educators in BC.

You may hear from me, Glynn Brothen, soon. I completely understand if you get my name confused; it’s not very common. However, I will be delivering a message as common as the weather. It’s that air pollution can affect your health and that the Air Quality Flags can help you stay aware of what kind of “air day” it is.

If you have questions for me please feel free to email me:

Or if you would like to chat about how your school can join this program, give me a call: 1-250-372-5900.

Talk soon,

Glynn Brothen

It’s time to participate!

Posted by on 9:26 am in News | 0 comments

Why should your school participate in the air quality flag program?

Because it’s easy to do, completely free and good for students and their families.

It takes only minutes a day to check the webpage created for your school. Your school and  students will learn kind of ‘air day’ it is, pick a corresponding coloured flag and fly it for everyone to see, either in the school or online.

The freebies are plenty — air quality flags to fly at your school, a page just for your school on and online resources, curriculum, support and encouragement.

Participation means you and your school are part of a province-wide program helping students and their families know more about air quality and health.

Teachers – if you are looking for a science, environment or a health planning unit, this program offers many ways to introduce the subject of air quality and its impacts on health and the environment. Check out our Air Quality Health Index Learning Stations – a curriculum based program for Grades 5 and 6.

Students – would you like to take on a leadership project for your school? Share information on this program with your parent or teacher.

Parents – if your child has asthma or any another respiratory condition, this program will help you help them know how to be more active in managing their symptoms.

Now is the time to get involved.  There are a limited number of BC schools that can participate this year.  Sign up here. Want to know more about the program? Check out

Have a question? Send it our way –

We look forward to hearing from you,


Welcome to!

Posted by on 10:04 am in News | 0 comments


Welcome to the launch of a brand new website dedicated to the Air Quality Flag Program for Schools.

This website and air quality flags are designed to help you and your school community stay aware of the air you’re breathing. Given that we breathe roughly 10,000 liters of air per day, it’s something we should all think about. I will admit that prior to learning more about air quality, I never paid much thought to it, but I’ve realized that taking a minute or two out of my day to check the air quality is a small price to pay to find out what kind of air I’m breathing.

Since this program is the first of its kind in Canada, I’m eager to take part in its launch. My role is to keep you informed about how the Air Quality Flags can help you stay aware of the air and remain active outdoors. If you’re a student, school staff member, parent, or a concerned citizen; I encourage you to observe and share what you discover as this project progresses. If our program goals  are met within the pilot test frame, there will be a potential opportunity to expand further into Canada.

In order to stay in touch, this blog will be my tool to communicate and update you on the project. I’ll be in frequent contact with the participating schools, and making occasional trips. Please feel free to contact me at any time to hear more about the program, sign up, tell me about your experience, or to share your thoughts on the Air Quality Flags. Your story may end up on this blog!

I encourage you to take the time to explore what this site has to offer, and if you think it could benefit your school – sign up!



Glynn Brothen