A CIESE Realtime Data Project

Air Pollution: What's the Solution?

What are the Effects of Air Pollution?

 --> How does air pollution affect my surroundings?

Procedure
All experiments listed below may be set up as stations allowing students to rotate through all, or a few experiments can be selected to set up as demonstrations, or students can break into groups and complete one experiment and report back to the class about their experience and information learned.

  • Effects on Vegetation
  • Effects on Visibility
  • Effects on Property
  • Effects on Health
  • Station 1 - Effects on Vegetation
    pH measures the relative acidity of the water on a scale of 0-14. A pH level of 7.0 is considered neutral. Pure water has a pH of 7.0. Water with a pH level less than 7.0 is considered to be acidic. Normal rain is slightly acidic, with a pH of about 5.5. Water with a pH greater than 7.0 is considered to be basic or alkaline. As of the year 2000, the most acidic rain falling in the U.S. had a pH of about 4.3.

    1. Part 1: Soil
      1. Fill a graduated cylinder with 100 ml of vinegar (or another solution with a pH of 4.0)
      2. Pour the 100 ml of vinegar into a spray bottle.
      3. Place 1500 ml of soil (6 cups) into a 2 quart mixing bowl.
      4. Measure the pH of the soil and record (*test kits vary; this test may take up to 10 minutes to get results).
      5. Spray the solution on the bowl of soil for 10 seconds. Let stand for 30 seconds.
      6. Measure the amount of vinegar/solution used and record.
      7. Measure the pH of the soil again and record (*test kits vary; this test may take up to 10 minutes to get results).
      8. Answer the following questions:
        • Was there a difference in the pH level? If so, what was it?
        • What do you think would happen to the pH level of the water if you sprayed for 30 seconds? 1 minute?
        • How do you think acid rain affects the pH of soil in fields and forests?
       

      *NOTE: The soil test can take up to 10 minutes for the results. You might want to complete both soil tests, then complete Part 2 while you are waiting for the results.
       

    2. Part 2: Water
      1. Fill a graduated cylinder with 100 ml of vinegar (or another solution with a pH of 4.0)
      2. Pour the 100 ml of vinegar into a spray bottle.
      3. Place 1500 ml of water (6 cups) into a 2 quart mixing bowl.
      4. Measure the pH of the water and record.
      5. Spray the solution on the bowl of water for 10 seconds. Let stand for 30 seconds.
      6. Measure the amount of vinegar/solution used and record.
      7. Measure the pH of the water again and record.
      8. Answer the following questions:
        • Was there a difference in the pH level? If so, what was it?
        • What do you think would happen to the pH level of the water if you sprayed for 30 seconds? 1 minute?
        • How do you think acid rain affects the pH in lakes, rivers and streams?

    3. Part 3: Vegetation
      1. Obtain 3 fresh, green leaves from the same tree or plant.
      2. Tape one leaf (control leaf) to a piece of white paper, label, and place in a dry, safe location.
      3. Spray one leaf all over with the vinegar/solution. Tape it next to the control leaf on the white piece of paper and label.
        • Are there any immediate effects to the leaf?
      4. Place the leaf next to your control leaf overnight in the classroom.
        • What does the leaf look like the next day?
      5. Spray a third leaf all over with the vinegar/solution 6 times in a day, place it next to the other leaves and leave overnight.
      6. Answer the following questions:
        • What does the leaf look like the next day?
        • How do you think acid rain affects trees and other plants?

     

    Station 2 - Effects on Visibility

    1. Click on the Haze Cam Pollution Visibility Camera Network web site.
    2. Click on and review the links located in the upper navigation bar ("What causes poor visibility", "Gallery of good & bad days", etc.) for helpful information to answer the questions in the next section.
    3. Click on the all of the Live Sites listed in the left-hand side of the Hazecam web page to view current images from all of the CAMNET sites and answer the following questions:
      • Are any of the locations experiencing poor visibility? If so, please list.
      • Name one weather condition that can contribute to poor visibility.
      • Name two pollutants that contribute to poor visibility.
    4. Compare the Newark NJ/NYC and Boston, Massachusetts real time images. (Newark is 198 miles southwest of Boston)
      • Are there any similarities or differences in visibility?
    5. Click on the real time air quality information for Newark and Boston
      • Do the real time images reflect what the skies might look like with the predicted AQI level?
    6. Obtain the current weather conditions for Newark and Boston.
      • Do you think the weather conditions will increase or decrease the visibility? Why?

        * Remember: Poor air quality can cause poor visibility, but poor visibility does not necessarily result in poor air quality.

    Station 3 - Effects on Property

    1. Part 1: Picture Prompts
      Project the images below and as a class, discuss and answer the corresponding questions.
               
      1. What do you think might be causing the trees to lose their needles?


        "Cloudy" city
      2. Why does the air appear "cloudy"?


        Intense sunset
      3. What causes the colors of the sunset to be so intense/bright?


        Outdoor statue wear
      4. What is causing the outdoor statue to wear away more quickly than an indoor statue?

    2. Part 2: Observe Effects
      This experiment with chalk allows you to see the effect of acid rain on marble and limestone because chalk is made of calcium carbonate, a compound occurring in rocks, such as marble and limestone, and in animal bones, shells, and teeth.
      1. Place a piece of chalk in a bowl with white vinegar.
      2. Place another piece in a bowl of tap water.
      3. Leave overnight.
      4. Answer the following question the next day:
        • Is one piece of chalk more worn away or are they the same? Why?

    Station 4 - Effects on Health

    1. Part 1: Asthma & AQI
      1. Watch the "What's Asthma All About?" movie and answer the following question on the Effects on Health student worksheet about the movie.
        • What are some triggers of asthma?
      2. Review the Effects of Common Air Pollutants.
      3. Obtain the real time ozone or particle pollution levels for your area through the AIRNow web site.
        • Do you think the current air quality levels might cause a person with asthma to suffer from an asthma attack? Why or why not?
        • Do you think the current air quality levels might affect a person with cardiovascular disease? Explain.
      4. Look at the current air quality map of U.S.
        • Is there another area of the country that might pose a health threat to people who live there that have asthma? Where?
      5. What can a person with asthma do to limit exposure to triggers?
       
    2. Part 2: Using Health Related Data (see Extensions for possible math exploration)
      Using the American Lung Association data, click on your state and county and answer the following questions. If your county is not listed, select one that is closest to you.
      1. What is your county's grade for High Ozone Days?
      2. What is your county's grade for Particle Pollution?
      3. What is your county's Total Population?
      4. How many people are diagnosed with the following diseases in your county and what is the percentage compared to the total population for your county?
        • Pediatric Asthma (children under the age of 14)
        • Adult Asthma
        • Chronic Bronchitis
        • Emphysema
        • Cardiovascular Disease
      5. Click back to your state's data and click on the "Groups at Risk" tab. Which county in your state has the highest percentage of people diagnosed with the following diseases and how does it compare to your county?
        • Pediatric Asthma (children under the age of 14)
        • Adult Asthma
        • Chronic Bronchitis
        • Emphysema
        • Cardiovascular Disease
         
    3. Part 3: Synthesis
      1. Why do you think the American Lung Association would collect information on air pollution and the number of people with asthma, bronchitis, emphysema or cardiovascular disease?
      2. If you were diagnosed with one of these diseases, how could you use the real time air quality information to plan your daily activities?

    Group Discussion
    After all students have experienced the stations or have shared their experience with the class, as a group, answer some or all of these questions:

    • Do you think air pollution is an issue we should be concerned with? Why or why not?
    • Do you think air pollution effects the environment?
    • What do you think will happen to air pollution levels as the world population keeps increasing? Why?
    • Is there anything that you can do to help decrease the amount of air pollution? Explain.

    Note to Teacher: Depending on ability level, some students may need assistance locating the air quality real time data and locating their county

    Extensions

    • Math: In Part 2 of Station 4 - Effects on Health, have the students calculate the percentages of individuals with Pediatric Asthma, Adult Asthma, Chronic Bronchitis, Emphysema, and Cardiovascular Disease in your county. Depending on where you live, the percentages can be quite startling and help the students grasp how poor air quality can impact human health.
    • Case Study: London
      1. Read about London's Historic "Pea-Soupers" and the Lethal London Smog of 1952
      2. How long has air pollution been a problem in London?
      3.  
      4. What happened to change the way people thought about burning coal?

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