Why Study Air Quality?
The study of air quality has typically received little attention in schools, even in relation to other environmental concerns. Air itself seems abstract and boundless, and air pollution seems both more technical and more nebulous than other environmental problems.
Yet, the quality of our air has important and diverse ramifications. Both visible and invisible air pollutants have severe impacts on our environment, our health, and the quality of our lives. It has been well documented that air pollution costs Americans billions of dollars a year through its effects on our forests and crops, our buildings and cities, and our bodies. One illness that can be triggered by air pollution is asthma. According to the American Lung Association, one in ten individuals in Arizona have asthma and Arizona has the highest asthma-related death rate of any state. In addition, asthma is the number one cause of absences from our schools.
Air quality is also of special concern to us here in the Tucson area, where the economic well-being of our community is linked to visitors who come here to enjoy the climate and natural setting.
Air pollution is a growing problem in Tucson and Pima County primarily because of the amount of driving that we do. Motor vehicles are the source of most of our air pollution. Thus, through our daily transportation choices, each of us can be a part of the pollution solution. Because breathing healthy air is one of our most basic needs, and because the cause and effect relationship between transportation and pollution is so closely linked to our everyday lives, the topic of air quality is especially relevant to today’s students. Understanding these connections can empower students to make a contribution toward solving this important environmental concern and make a difference in improving their own future.
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Background Information about ozone, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter.
Online Activities with Teacher’s Materials
Real-time Data Collection Activities (grades 7-12) Activity Materials Downloads
Pollutants investigated include ozone, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter. Parameters include weather and climate (temperature, wind, rainfall), asthma attacks, visibility, time, and location.
Experiments (grades 4-12)
What’s making it BROWN outside? (pdf-file)
The connection between convection and inversion. (pdf-file)
Finding a solution to air pollution. (pdf-file)
Getting a handle on greenhouse gases. (pdf-file)