WHAM High School Air Quality program - Frequently Asked Questions

The South Coast Air Quality Management District (South Coast AQMD) is the regional air pollution control agency for all of Orange County and the urban portions of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. The South Coast Air Basin is home to more than 17 million people. Our region suffers from some of the poorest air quality in the nation as we do not meet federal standards for either ozone or PM2.5. Air pollution has far ranging effects on the health of Southern Californians, causing or contributing to asthma and lung damage, respiratory and cardiac diseases, cancer, birth defects and premature death. South Coast AQMD's mission is to clean the air and protect the health of all residents in the South Coast Air District through practical and innovative strategies.
The South Coast AQMD combines forward-thinking policies with technological solutions to reduce air pollution. Additionally, South Coast AQMD engages in innovative, community-based approaches to educate residents on air quality issues in the South Coast and Coachella Air Basins. Through the WHAM Program, the South Coast AQMD hopes to increase awareness of air quality issues in the Basins and empower youth to drive positive change during a time when they are developing and forming their own habits.
The South Coast AQMD has identified schools at the middle and high school level, clubs, and organizations based on key environmental justice indicators such as: exposure to harmful particulate matter, criteria air pollutants, proximity to facilities that emit toxic air contaminants and communities defined as disadvantaged by state law, among others.
The WHAM curriculum was developed by South Coast AQMD. Both the middle school and the high school curriculums are aligned with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Each curriculum is composed of four units that include age-appropriate and exciting hands-on experiments and activities.
No training is required. One-on-one assistance from South Coast AQMD is available upon request.
The WHAM program is flexible to accommodate the needs of the participating classroom teacher. The middle school curriculum is divided into four units and takes approximately four to five hours to complete. The high school curriculum is divided into four units and takes approximately four to five hours to complete. The curriculum can be covered in full or broken up into select units. South Coast AQMD can provide recommendations on which units to cover that best align with classroom lesson plans and availability.
A comprehensive evaluation survey will be distributed to all participating instructors following implementation of the program. The review will provide opportunities for instructors to offer feedback and share best practices concerning the program. The feedback will be shared with South Coast AQMD to better serve participating students in the coming years.
The high school curriculum includes a unit which utilizes air monitoring sensors to sample air quality for particulate matter. The AirBeam sensors measures particulate matter by drawing in air and measuring the concentration and size of particles using a light scattering method. AirBeam measurements are not intended for regulatory use.
Eligible classrooms will receive one WHAM kit, which contains everything needed to successfully implement the program. The kit can be reused for multiple classes. Durable items will be collected after the curriculum is implemented in the classroom(s). Those items include air monitoring sensors and paired Bluetooth devices, power strips, and other reusable items.
After the program is completed, the kit will be returned to the South Coast AQMD. If you are interested in continuing the program for future classes, please contact Monika Kim at or (909) 396-2342 for additional information.
The program has been successfully implemented throughout over 450 classrooms in middle schools and high schools across Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
The WHAM program offers features and support to provide teachers with maximum flexibility and learning tools to help meet their accommodate class and student needs. We can provide a virtual guest speaker along with virtual materials such as PowerPoint presentations and videos to assist in implementation.
For additional information on South Coast AQMD’s WHAM Program, please contact Monika Kim at or (909) 396-2342 or visit:
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