Air Quality

Healthy air is a vital component of healthy communities. Everyone deserves to breathe safe, healthy air. Unhealthy air that contains pollutants like particulate matter (or particle pollution), ozone, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide can lead to the following health issues for children:

  • Asthma attacks
  • Decreased lung function/slowed lung function growth
  • Development of asthma
  • Increased hospital admissions and ED visits for asthma
  • Increased severity of asthma attacks
  • Lung disease

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Carbon monoxide
  • Nitrogen dioxide
  • Ozone (also called smog)
  • Particulate matter (or particle pollution)
  • Sulfur dioxide
  • Toxic air pollutants

Visit What Makes Outdoor Air Unhealthy | American Lung Association for more info about each of these pollutants.

  • Children and teens whose lungs are still developing
  • Older adults
  • People who live and work near busy highways or factories; due to systemic racism and environmental injustice, this tends to be people of color and/or people with lower incomes
  • People with cardiovascular disease or diabetes
  • People with lung diseases like asthma
  • Check the daily air pollution forecast | Check now
  • If you drive to school, turn off your engine while dropping off or picking up students – idling vehicles give off higher levels of harmful air pollution
  • Walk, bike or carpool to school
  • When pollution levels are high, take steps to protect your health:
    • Avoid exercising/playing outdoors
    • Avoid opening windows
    • Keep your quick-relief asthma medication on hand if you are active outdoors

The Air Quality Index, or AQI, is used to warn the public when air pollution is dangerous and can be found at (View AQI table)

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Grant for Breathe S.M.A.R.T. (Safely Monitoring Air ‘Round Town)

In 2022, the EPA awarded us $500,000 for a 3-year project that aims to create a community-based network of neighborhood-level air quality monitoring stations in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, focusing on neighborhoods with high asthma burdens. Through this program, the community will receive education about how to access the neighborhood-level air quality data, what the data means, and the action steps tied to that data so that residents have both the tools and knowledge necessary to respond to asthma-related air quality risk factors. This will be accomplished through six activities.

  • Activity 1: Install fixed air quality sensors and use portable sensors at select schools in the Milwaukee Public Schools district to gather air quality data.
  • Activity 2: Train school partners to analyze the sensors’ data, set up notifications, and develop school-based action plans to respond to air quality alerts.
  • Activity 3: Develop and deliver educational programming focused on air quality for kids, families and communities.
  • Activity 4: Engage schools in air quality monitoring activities through involvement in air quality campaigns (like anti-idling), student engagement and leadership, school STEAM curriculum/citizen science monitoring using sensors, and education and awareness programs aimed at students, families and the community.
  • Activity 5: Share real-time air quality data through apps and websites, along with long-term data and trends through portals and databases.
  • Activity 6: Evaluate the effectiveness of air monitoring, education, and behavior changes that can improve asthma management using our performance measures.

Air Quality Resources

We are working on developing some great resources; check back soon!

The Breathe S.M.A.R.T. program relies on partnerships with state and local entities to accomplish its goals. These partners include:

Our Partners

Primary Partner: Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) Division of Public Health

  • Children’s Wisconsin Community Health Asthma Management Program (CHAMP)
  • City of Milwaukee Health Department
  • Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC)
  • Local academia: Medical College of Wisconsin, UW-Milwaukee, Concordia University
  • Milwaukee Public Schools and United Way’s Milwaukee Community Schools Partnership
  • Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers
  • Urban Ecology Center
  • Wisconsin Department of Health Services Asthma Program
  • Wisconsin Department of Health Services Climate and Health Program
  • Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR)

Contact Our Staff

Carissa Hoium, MPH
Program Leader
Environmental Health
(414) 337-4569

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Breathe S.M.A.R.T. is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency through EPA-OAR-OAQPS-22-01: Enhanced Air Quality Monitoring for Communities.

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