1. Begin the lesson by asking the students where air
pollution in urban areas mostly comes from. (Combustion
of fossil fuels that are used in industry, and for heating,
electricity, and cars) What about in rural areas?
2. Explain to the students that pollution affects different
people in different manners. Ask them who they think
might be most affected. They will probably recognize
young children as vulnerable and those who have asthma
and allergies, but guide them to expanding who is vulnerable
by including those in crowded, poor conditions. [The
combination of a variety of air pollutants is high enough
to cause serious health effects to both the elderly and
young who tend to be more susceptible to air pollution.
Students may be able to address what pollutants are present
from their science class. Explain that excessive levels
of air pollution caused by carbon monoxide, ozone, and
other particulates leads to respiratory cardiovascular
diseases. In highly urban areas, especially in the poorest
and most over crowded areas where there is poor ventilation,
acute respiratory infections, tuberculosis, and other
airborne infections are a major source of death and ill
health (adapted and modified from United Nations Cyber
School Bus, “What is Wrong with Cities”).]
3. Ask students to research one area of the United States,
perhaps a major city, for which they can find the current
air quality data. Typically state or counties have websites
with current air quality information; for example, Pima
County in Arizona has a department of environmental quality:
This data set, like several of those viewed, give data
for different sites around the city. The site also gives
information about temperature and wind which can be useful
in understanding why there might be increased amounts
of pollutants. For example, at higher temperatures you
may see more ozone. You might want to check out other
major cities for access to their environmental quality
4. Present the students with a chart divided into three
5. Students will identify which types of pollutants are
monitored by their local department of environmental
health in their city, and they will explain whether their
causes are geographical, climate-related, or man -made.
In the third column, students will describe the human
health effects of each type of air pollutant.
6. Students should draw a sketch of a city with major
transportation routes and building concentrations labeled.
They should then review the data for at least a week
before for several data collection points around town.
Is there a pattern? Are the results the same each day?
What explains differential pollution across the city?
7. In a class discussion the teacher will pose the following
question, “What type of man- made air pollutants
can be reduced or eliminated to improve the environmental
health effects on humans?” In a quiz, the teacher
will ask students to list three types of air pollutants
and their health effects.
can be pre-assessed on their grasp of the relationship
between air pollution and human health.
The chart and sketch demonstrates a student’s ability
to connect causes and effects among geography, air pollution