New tool revealed to alert residents when air pollution is at an unsafe level

MILWAUKEE -- Officials from multiple agencies unveiled on Wednesday, April 19th a new tool to alert residents when air pollution is at an unsafe level.

While Milwaukee is not considered one of the cleanest cities in the U.S., it does have a good track record when it comes to clean air. But for those concerned about local air quality, this new tool will really help.

The details were revealed on Wednesday morning by representatives from the American Lung Association, Milwaukee Fire Department, Wisconsin DNR and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

Every day, Milwaukee County's air quality is checked by field operators with the Wisconsin DNR. According to the 2017 State of the Air Report, Milwaukee's ozone level has dropped dramatically in the last 18 years.

"In the 2017 report, Milwaukee had its lowest average of unhealthy day for both ozone and particle pollution," said Dona Wininsky with the American Lung Association.

Flags will indicate air quality in Milwaukee County

To help the community become aware of high levels of ozone, Milwaukee County fire stations will now display a flag designating the air quality for the day as determined by the Wisconsin DNR. Those flags will either be in a window or on a flag pole.

If a green flag is flying, that means the air quality is good and you can enjoy your time outdoors.

If a yellow flag is flying, the air quality is moderate and may impact those individuals whose lungs may be susceptible. Those with lung disease on yellow days should  consider limited prolonged exposure outdoors.

On orange flag days, it's considered unhealthy for sensitive groups. Children, physically active adults and those with respiratory disease should limit prolonged exposure outdoors.

When red flag is displayed, it's unhealthy. Children, active adults and those with respiratory disease should avoid prolonged outdoor exertion. Everyone else on red days should also limit their outdoor exposure.

New air quality flags revealed

"We as firefighters go to a great length, tremendous length to protect our firefighters from smoke and other hazards that are inherent in the work that we do," said Deputy Chief Aaron Lipski with the Milwaukee Fire Department. "So too, should we be looking out for the health of the community and the citizens we serve and this way we can start going down that road."

People can also subscribe to be alerted with air quality changes or get daily updates through the Wisconsin DNR. CLICK HERE to sign up for those email alerts.