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Teacher's Corner
Several air quality experiments are possible using materials
and devices which are around the house.

Background Research

For additional background and activities about your activity, the following teaching resources are suggested:
Sources in Print
Environmental Experiments About Air
Thomas Rybolt
Enslow Publications

The Breath of Life
Donald E. Carr

The Air We Live By
Marshall , James

Air Polution, How It Got That Way
Marshall, James

Thinkquest: http://www.advanced.org/thinkquest


Quatro Pro

Word Perfect




This lesson addresses the following California Science Content Standards.

Grades 9-12

Life, Earth, & Physical Sciences

Earth Science

4c: The different atmospheric gases that
absorb the Earth's thermal radiation, and the
mechanism and significance of the
greenhouse effect.

8b: How the composition of the Earth's
atmosphere has evolved over geologic time
including outgassing, the origin of
atmospheric oxygen, and variations in
carbon dioxide

8c: The location of the ozone layer in the
upper atmosphere, its role in absorbing
ultraviolet radiation and how it varies both
naturally and in response to human activities.

Investigation & Experimentation


Objective #1

To collect enough particulate matter air samples to determine a normal amount

Objective #2

To compare the sample amounts with data from the state of California's Air Quality Board

Objective #3

To become familiar with long term data collection and analysis procedures

Objective #4

To be able to write up and publish the results of this study for their area

Objective #5

To be able to compare their results with those of other students participating in the same study using the Internet


Here are some investigations you might want to do, to further your understanding of air pollution.

Laboratory Investigations

Air quality is determined by the amount of contaminants in the air. If there are no contaminants in the air, the quality is perfect. Not many places exist with no contaminants. Contaminants can be: gases, aerosols or particulate matter. At the pre-college level, detection of gaseous contaminants such as NOx or SO2 pollutants is difficult without donated equipment. Chemical analysis of aerosols ( liquid drop ) pollutants is difficult and not many aerosol sources are found outside of chemical factories. Particulate matter in ambient air is readily availible in most locations and relatively easy to sample. Sources include; pollen, blowing dust, exhaust form engines, agricultural fertilizers, dander from house hold pets and floor dust at home and in schools. These can all be readily sampled with a vacuum cleaner and the kleenex holder suggested in the Berkeley Lab experiment. Studies can be of both total mass of sample and analysis of what is cught by the filter. In the spring time pollen collected can be examined by examination through a high powered light microscope. The same filter system can be used to collect the combustion products of cigaretts by attatching the top half of a plastic water or soda bottle to the filter holder. The collected tars and smoke particles are colorful to say the least.