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Air Quality Index (AQI) Toolkit for Teachers

Toolkit Overview

Children are one of the sensitive groups at risk for health effects from air pollution, in part because their lungs are still developing. The Air Quality Index (AQI) is an important tool for letting children know when air quality in their area is unhealthy and how they, their families, and communities can protect their health. The AQI uses a color-coded scale and maps to provide daily air quality information. The AQI is available on the Internet at:, and many local newspapers and television and radio stations also present the AQI.

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Your Role in Air Quality Awareness

Compiled by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), this Toolkit provides teachers with easy-to-use and engaging lesson plans, additional activities, and other resources to teach students about the connections between air quality, health, weather, and other related science topics, as well as actions students can take to protect their health and reduce air pollution.

In 2005, the EPA developed an AQI Toolkit for Weathercasters for school and civic group presentations. Like weathercasters, teachers are a key resource for science and health information relevant to air quality, and thus EPA created this companion AQI Toolkit for Teachers. The lesson plans in this Toolkit meet national science education standards and can be easily incorporated into school curriculums.

What’s In the Toolkit?

This Toolkit includes:

  • Key Messages - Bullet point lists of key air quality messages for each age group.
  • Lesson plans - plans appropriate for:
    • Grades K through 2
    • Grades 3 through 5
    • Grades 6 through 8
  • Additional activities - Brief descriptions of other activities about air quality that teachers can conduct with students.
  • Handouts - Simple one-page, age-appropriate handouts for students on air quality that highlight how they can protect their health and the environment.
  • Background Information - for teachers on air quality, the AQI, and related health impacts, including:
    • Fact Sheets:
      • Air Pollution and Health
      • What Is the Air Quality Index?
    • Bibliography of curricula, lesson plans, activities, publications, and Web sites
  • National Science Education Standards - Education Standards met listed for each lesson plan.
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