Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 3: Health Promotion and Protection

3.1 Health Promotion in Child Care

3.1.3 Physical Activity and Limiting Screen Time Protection from Air Pollution While Children Are Outside

Content in the STANDARD was modified on 8/25/2016.


Supervising adults should check the air quality index (AQI) each day and use the information to determine whether it is safe for children to play outdoors.
Children need protection from air pollution. Air pollution can contribute to acute asthma attacks in sensitive children and, over multiple years of exposure, can contribute to permanent decreased lung size and function (1,2).
The federal Clean Air Act requires that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) establish ambient air quality health standards. Most local health departments monitor weather and air quality in their jurisdiction and make appropriate announcements. AQI is usually reported with local weather reports on media outlets or individuals can sign up for email or text message alerts at http://www

The AQI (available at is a cumulative indicator of potential health hazards associated with local or regional air pollution. The AQI is divided into six categories; each category corresponds to a different level of health concern. The six levels of health concern and what they mean are:

  1. “Good” AQI is 0 - 50. Air quality is considered satisfactory, and air pollution poses little or no risk.
  2. “Moderate” AQI is 51 - 100. Air quality is acceptable, however, for some pollutants there may be a moderate health concern for a very small number of people. For example, people who are unusually sensitive to ozone may experience respiratory symptoms.
  3. “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” AQI is 101 - 150. Although general public is not likely to be affected at this AQI range, people with heart and lung disease, older adults, and children are at a greater risk from exposure to ozone and the presence of particles in the air.
  4. “Unhealthy” AQI is 151 - 200. Everyone may begin to experience some adverse health effects, and members of the sensitive groups may experience more serious effects.
  5. “Very Unhealthy” AQI is 201 - 300. This would trigger a health alert signifying that everyone may experience more serious health effects.
  6. “Hazardous” AQI greater than 300. This would trigger a health warning of emergency conditions. The entire population is more likely to be affected.
Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS Playing Outdoors Ensuring Access to Fresh Air Indoors
  1. Gehring, U., Gruzieva, O., Agius, R., Beelen, R., Custovic, A., Cyrys, J.,Von Berg. (2013). Air pollution exposure and lung function in children: The ESCAPE project. Environmental Health Perspectives: EHP. 121(11-12), 1357-1364.
  2. Lerodiakonou, D. (2016). Ambient air pollution, lung function, and airway responsiveness in asthmatic children. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 137(2), 390.

Content in the STANDARD was modified on 8/25/2016.