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Is Your Bus Exhausting? Stevens Institute of Technology


TEACHERS: Criteria Pollutants
Students will be able to:
  • collect pertinent air pollutant information
  • organize the information into a concept map




The Clean Air Act, which was last amended in 1990, requires EPA to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards for pollutants considered harmful to public health and the environment. The Clean Air Act established two types of national air quality standards. Primary standards set limits to protect public health, including the health of "sensitive" populations such as asthmatics, children, and the elderly. Secondary standards set limits to protect public welfare, including protection against decreased visibility, damage to animals, crops, vegetation, and buildings.

As part of this task, the EPA has identified and tracks emissions of principal or criteria air pollutants including; ozone, particulate matter, carbon dioxide, lead, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and volatile organic compounds.

In this lesson, students will collect information about the various air pollutants and create a concept map.  A Concept Map (aka; webbing) is a type of graphic organizer that harnesses the power of our vision to understand complex information "at-a-glance." A concept map consists of cells that contain a concept (items) and links. The links (arrows) are labeled and explain the relationship between the cells, and the direction of the arrow represents the direction of the relationship.

Concept Maps can:
  • demonstrate an understanding of a body of knowledge
  • explore information and relationships
  • access prior knowledge
  • share knowledge and information
  • visualize problem solving options

A Sample Response is meant to be used only as a guide for evaluation as this exercise encourages creativity and student responses may vary dramatically, although each may be correct.


  1. Access the EPA's Six Common Air Pollutants page or the Major Air Pollutants (.pdf) table page.
  2. Gather information on the following Six Common Pollutants, Ozone, Particulate Matter (PM), Nitrogen Dioxide (NOx), Sulfur Dioxide (SOx), Carbon Monoxide (CO), and Lead and complete the Criteria Pollutants Student Worksheet. Collect the following information:
    • Sources (Where does it come from?)
    • Causes for Concern (Why are we worried?)
    • Controls (How do we fix it?)
    • Release (Direct or Form in the air?)
  3. Use the completed Criteria Pollutants Student Worksheet to construct a concept map. Obtain the materials from your teacher for the concept map.

Analyze information to complete the Concept Map (Ozone Sample Response).


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The Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education