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

Goals and Objectives       Student Investigations

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.

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


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