Thursday, February 7, 2013

Alpine Schools Using Air Quality Recess Guidance

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Some students in the Alpine School District have taken recess break inside because repeated inversions have made Wasatch Front air quality unhealthful. Inversions can be especially hard on children and anyone with certain chronic health conditions.

“Bad air can trigger respiratory problems like coughing and wheezing for those with asthma,” said Kellie Baxter of the Utah Asthma Program. “Children are especially affected by poor air quality and it’s important they stay indoors when pollution levels are high.”

The Utah Departments of Health (UDOH) and Environmental Quality (DEQ) created the Recess Guidance for Schools in 2004 to help administrators know when to move recess indoors on poor air quality days.
In 2011, UDOH invited all principals to join a Recess Guidance alert list if they wanted to be advised of bad air days. Emails are sent when PM2.5 reaches unhealthful levels. 

The alerts contain information for Cache, Box Elder, Duchesne, Uintah, Weber, Davis, Tooele, Salt Lake, and Utah counties.  They are followed by specific guidance on which students should be kept indoors in each area. The majority of schools in Alpine School District have signed up.

“Air quality was a problem throughout the month of January,” said Gary Gibb, principal at Legacy Elementary in Alpine School District. “Getting alerts on current air quality levels allowed me to quickly make decisions about which students should remain indoors for recess.”

Three video tutorials were developed by UDOH and DEQ to help parents and schools learn more about air quality and the Recess Guidance:
1)      Utah’s Air Quality and Health – Explains how air quality affects health and how to determine your sensitivity to air pollution.
2)      How to Use the Division of Air Quality Website – Explains how to find current pollution levels and other air quality information at
3)      Recess Guidance – Explains how to use the Recess Guidance to determine when to avoid outdoor physical activity based on PM2.5 levels.

Baxter says parents also play an important role in the use of the Recess Guidance. “UDOH and DEQ developed tutorials to help both parents and school leaders understand the effects of bad air on young lungs and how to help children avoid harmful exposure to PM2.5.”

To see current PM2.5 levels, visit and click on ‘Current Conditions.’ Copies of the Recess Guidance, PM2.5 fact sheets, and video tutorials are available at or by calling the UDOH Health Resource Line at 1-888-222-2542. 

Media Contacts:
Kellie Baxter
UDOH Asthma Program                                                                           
(o) 801-538-6441 (m) 801-376-6032                   
Rhonda Bromley
Alpine School District