AUSTIN (KXAN) — There are days when you watch a KXAN weather report that you hear us talk about our air quality. An emphasis is placed on this particularly when the Clean Air Force of Central Texas alerts us to deteriorating air quality because of ozone and/or particulate matter.

The Clean Air Force is a non-profit dedicated to providing clean air solutions to Central Texas. This includes educating students about the importance of maintaining high air quality.

The Be Air Smart School Sensor Program is one way to accomplish teaching children early on to want to work to make positive impacts on our environment. Working with the Capital Area Council of Governments and Austin FC|Atlas, they have placed Particulate Matter sensors in Central Texas schools.

Bill Gibbs is the Executive Director of the Clean Air Force of Central Texas. He says these sensors are installed at the school and that teachers are given a teaching guide that allows them to educate their students about the importance of good air quality. The guide offers several activities and projects with the sensors. Those sensors don’t cost the school any money as they are provided free of charge thanks to the generosity of people and governmental organizations.

Even though our area does have issues with ozone it is the particulate matter that is a more significant problem. In fact, PM2.5 pollution locally is greater than 85% of the United States which creates a health hazard. The fine particulate matter can travel deep into the lungs causing breathing problems, lung disease, and heart issues.

Fine particulate matter includes, but is not limited to things like burning candles, tobacco smoke, or using the fireplace.