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updated: 4/29/2014 8:03 AM

Air quality flag rises above Illinois EPA headquarters

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Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD -- Illinois officials are encouraging residents to check daily air quality like they check the daily weather forecast.

The Environmental Protection Agency kicked off Air Quality Awareness Week by joining with Illinois Partners for Clean Air in promoting the Air Quality Flag. The EPA's Springfield headquarters will be the first business to raise the flag, which ranges in color from green, for high-quality air, to purple, for very unhealthy air.

The program began last year with schools in the Chicago area.

Air Quality Awareness Week is part of Earth Month. It features an air-saving practice each day, such as "Ride Together Tuesday" -- encouraging carpooling -- and "No Idle Thursday," in which motorists are encouraged to go inside instead of going through businesses' drive-thru.

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