Danger In The Air!
Air Pollution and Heath
This module contains numerous activities for students to investigate
the factors of air pollution that negatively impacts a person's health.
Students will examine information provided by various agencies and at various
sites. They will conduct simple experiments and conclude this part of the
module by making suggestions for improving air quality.
Activities directly related to health issues are:
- Sulfur Dioxide activity (Activity #2:
Effects of Air Pollution on Plant Growth)--after growing plants students
release gas. Observe, record, analyze and make report/presentation. Kits
from Hubbard, Chippewa Falls, WI 54729.
- Interviewing activity (Activity #3: You
ask the Questions)--that will require students to conduct interviews, gather
information, analyze information and make a presentation of the interviews.
Interview form is provided but paper and pencil will be adequate.
- Web-based research on health (Activity
#5: Air Pollution and Health Issues) --mainly accessing data, recording,
interpreting and reporting the data. Students will make a report of their
computer search and investigation and conduct simple experiments. Students
will also make observations.
- Monitoring plant growth versus pollution,
an optional activity (Activity #6: The Effect of Air Pollution on Plant
Air pollution affects human health in a number of ways. Air pollution
increases the frequency and severity of lung diseases. In severe air pollution
situations, thousands of people have died and suffered. Some of the less
serious health effects include sore and running eyes, shortness of breath,
decreased lung capacity and fatigue. About 64,000 people in the US die
prematurely each year from cardiopulmonary causes that are linked to particulates
in the air. Commonly known as particulate air pollution, it is composed
of smoke, soot, particulates from gaseous emissions from coal powered industrial
plants and boilers, and from gasoline and diesel powered vehicles. It is
documented by prestigious committees that air pollution is the actual cause
The particulates/pollutants are:
- Carbon monoxide which is an odorless, colorless gas that weakens the
contractions of the heart thus reducing the amount of blood pumped to various
parts of the body.
- Ozone which is also a colorless gas that is the primarily cause of
smog. Smog causes eye irritation and affects the respiratory system by
harming the mucous membrane of the nose, throat and airways.
- Nitrogen dioxide which is a brown colored gas that affects asthmatics
and has been shown to harm the lungs of test animals.
- Sulfur dioxide which is a colorless gas that can become pungent when
accumulated in large concentrations. Sulfur dioxide also harms the respiratory
The elderly and those with heart and lung problems are at the greatest
risk of death from the effects of air pollution but pollutants damage and
injure everyone's respiratory systems. The state of Washington has cleaner
air than several years ago because of the enforcement measures and policies
of State and Federal agencies, yet there were four "unhealthy days"