Is the air quality safe for children to bike to school?

Shlomi and Adva live in Tivon, a hilly town in Northern Israel. Adva has asthma. The town is designed to encourage healthy exercise and there are bike paths to their school, but when air pollution levels are high, people are recommended to avoid exercising outdoors. 

The children's mother checks the air quality using the the air quality index (AQI) before deciding if they should bike to school.  During the recent sandstorm, the children were not allowed to bike to school because of government health warnings and recommendations.

Sand storms are a global phenomena and sand can be carried long distances by the wind before being deposited. Look at the animation below to see how sand and other soil particles can travel.

The AQI is calculated by testing for levels (concentrations) of priority pollutants including particulates like sand, but also ground-level ozone, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide; using standard formulas. These pollutants are known to harm health. The AQI is the highest value measured at a point (where the monitoring station is located) over a period of time.

The AQI for Israel can be found using a mobile app or the internet site: . You can find the AQI in other countries and locations by searching for the nearest monitoring station at the website:

This was the AQI in Tivon on Monday:    


AQI values below 100 are generally thought of as satisfactory. When AQI values are above 100, air quality is considered to be unhealthy-at first for certain sensitive groups of people, such as asthmatics, then for everyone as AQI values get higher.


Air Pollution Level

Health Implications



Air quality is considered satisfactory, little or no risk



Air quality is satisfactory for most people, with a moderate health risk for a small group of very sensitive people.


Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups - old, sick, asthmatics

Sensitive groups may experience health effects, general public not likely to be affected.


Unhealthy for all

Everyone may begin to experience health effects; members of sensitive groups more serious health effects.


Very unhealthy

Health warnings of emergency conditions. Entire population more likely to be affected.



Health alert: everyone may experience more serious health effects.

Should Shlomi and Adva have biked to school that monday?

1 People tried to answer this question

No, as the AQI index number is on an orange background, and this indicates the air quality is dangerous and everyone should restrain from strenuous exercise such as biking.

Now go to the site search for your city. Should you go for a strenuous bike ride? Explain.

No, the children should not bike to school as the Air Quality Index number is high and therefore the air is unhealthy for most people; who may experience negative health effects.

Now go to the site search for your city. Should you go for a strenuous bike ride? Explain.

Yes, the Air Quality Index is well below 100 and safe for a healthy person (Shlomi)to bike to school, but couldbe dangerousfor a person with asthma(Adva).

Now go to the site search for your city. Should you go for a strenuous bike ride? Explain.

Yes, the air quality is safefor Shlomi and Advato bike to school and the motherhas nothing toworry about.

Now go to the site search for your city. Should you go for a strenuous bike ride? Explain.

1.  Galkin Amit (2011-12-20 15:00:00)
Air quality

The question is very challenging, as it represents plenty of information.

I'm not sure whether is is not to complicated and "loaded" for junior high schoo; children.

I have found it difficult to choose the correct answer, as - according to the table added to the question - higher levels than 51 are not recommended for asthmatic people, while the level within the question is 54.



2.  Galkin Amit (2012-12-20 15:00:00)
Air Pollution

Please ignore the previous comment. Debby, you may delete it.



The question is very detailed, and represents the subject in various methods.


It is also very challenging, as it includes plenty of information.


However, I'm not sure, whether it is not too complicated and "loaded" for junior high school children.


I have found it difficult to choose the correct answer, as - according to the AQI's table you added - AQI's levels higher than 51 are not recommended for asthmatic people, while the AQI level in the question is 54, and the correct answer mentions levels lower than 100 as satisfactory, although Adva suffers from asthma.


As for the map, I added Delhi, India, as the most air-polluted city in the world, according to the World Health Organization report for 2015.

3.  amir eilam (2014-12-20 15:00:00)
My Comment - Noa Amir


The question is very interesting and related to the every-day routine of the children, so I think they will be focused when they are answering the question, because it is related to their life.

I think that the video demonstrate the issue very good. Also I like the table that explains the AQI values, I think that it is very simple and easy to understand.

I like the link to check the AQI in my city, it is very useful…

One thing that is missing is a short explanation of how the AQI is computed, what are the main parameters that affects it.

4.  Yuan Shiran (04.06.2018 pm 05.45.06)
The real-time AQI in Haifa and the discuss among the feasibility of outdoor activities

The picture above is the real-time Air Quality Index (AQI) information in Haifa ( on 4th June, 2018).  The information was updated at 15:00 (just 2 hours ago), the temperature then was 25 deg C, and the AQI values in Haifa was 46. According to the Air Quality Index (AQI), 46 is within the scale of 0~50, which illustrates that the air pollution level was good, and would pose little or no risk. Therefore the air quality was considered satisfactory for me to go for a strenuous bike ride.

5.  Yuan Shiran (04.06.2018 pm 06.34.17)
feedback and assessment to this question

This question was well structured and meaningful. By answering it correctly, students need to acquire the knowledge about AQI graph, analyze the air quality and know its' effect to health accordingly. However, the question could be better if it could be generated more specificly. Go to the website and to see the real-time AQI in their own city is a good way to help students' to understand the importance of caring about the air pollution problems in their surroundings, so for further inspiration, asking about "What kinds of air pollution are there in your area? ", "Give solusions to improve the air quality in your area.", or "chose a best time in the past 24 hours for you to do outdoor activities and explain why". could make the question more interactive and authentic for students, and help them to understand more about the AQI graph and air pollution.

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