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Monthly Archives: October 2012

Does your school have a School Flag Program?

Did you know air pollution is a trigger for asthma? Did you know children are especially sensitive to the harmful effects of air pollution? When the air quality is unhealthy what changes are you going to make in children’s outdoor play?

The School Flag Program is an effort by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to help schools improve the health and wellness of students and staff.

Air pollution can affect the health of children, especially those with asthma. The School Flag Program is designed to help the school community stay aware of outdoor air quality conditions so teachers, coaches and students can take protective measures to reduce students’ exposure to air pollution. Modifying outdoor activities is recommended when air quality has reached unhealthy levels.

There are four easy steps to get the School Flag Program started at your school to ensure healthy learning environments.

First, purchase five flags, pennant style, solid colors, Schools participating in the School Flag Program raise a flag each day. The flag colors are based on the colors of the Air Quality IndexEach flag color corresponds to a different level of health concern:

  • Green = good
  • Yellow = moderate
  • Orange = unhealthy for sensitive groups
  • Red = unhealthy
  • Purple = very unhealthy 

Second, educate and inform parents, teachers and students.

Third, check the Air Quality Index each day and fly the corresponding flag. You can sign up for an email check the local news, or go to for a free air quality app or free widget.

Fourth, follow the recommendations for schools and others on poor air quality days.

Learn more about the School Flag Program  Resources for teachers are also available. For questions, contact Ellen Wildermann, 919-541-5408 or email at

For more information about air pollutants, ozone and the air quality data system, visit the Air Pollution Control Program 


Department emergency staff respond to 13-car train derailment

Department’s Environmental Emergency Response staff were dispatched to the scene of a 13-car train derailment near Mosby, Missouri on Saturday, Oct. 27. 

Union Pacific Railroad contacted the 24-Hour Spill Line at 5:26 a.m. to report a derailment of a Canadian Pacific train. Three hopper cars landed in Fishing River, each carrying approximately 80,000 pounds of glyphosate intermediate cake, a product used in the manufacture of herbicides. One tanker was leaking liquid fertilizer but this did not impact the creek as an earthen dam was constructed around the area.

Mosby train derailment

Environmental consultants from Canadian Pacific Railroad collected water samples. Readings for pH level of the river indicate that there was no impact from the herbicide product and no fish kill was observed. The Fishing River remains dammed above and below the impacted area. After the rail cars are removed and it is safe to enter the area, a response contractor will pump the contents of the damned area.

The bridge was compromised in the derailment making removal of the derailed train cars difficult. A large crane was onsite to repair the bridge. Due to the position of the derailed cars, equipment being used and damage to the bridge combined with concern for personnel safety issues slowed efforts at the scene. The Environmental Emergency Responder conducted further investigation Monday.

The Environmental Emergency Response section is called to the scene of more than 300 emergencies each year, including fires, traffic accidents, leaking storage tanks and other incidents that could have a negative environmental impact. The department’s 24-Hour Spill Line receives more than 1,600 incident reports annually.

To report an environmental emergency, including fuel spills, please contact the 24-Hour Spill Line at (573) 634-2436. For more information about the program visit Environmental Emergency Response  

Mosby train derailment incident