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Is Your Bus Exhausting? Stevens Institute of Technology


TEACHERS: What Can You Do?

Students will be able to:
  • list actions citizens can take to reduce ground level ozone and particulate matter
  • create a flyer (poster, web page) to educate others about diesel bus retrofitting projects


  • Computers with Internet access
  • Printer
  • optional: word processing software



The AIRNow web site provides the public with easy access to national air quality information. The web site offers daily air quality forecasts as well as near real-time air quality data for over 100 cities across the U.S., and provides links to more detailed State and local air quality websites. With the availability of the near real-time compiled information, citizens can become aware of the areas of the country that have chronic ground level ozone problems. Ozone and other air quality problems can cause or worsen respiratory and other health problems. It is important for the public to have access to ozone information to make informed decisions.  
Ozone can:

  • irritate your respiratory system

  • reduce lung function

  • aggravate asthma

  • inflame and damage cells that line your lungs

  • aggravate chronic lung diseases

  • cause permanent lung damage

It is important to know that lung damage caused by ozone can occur without any noticeable signs. People who live in areas where ozone levels are frequently high may find that their initial symptoms go away over time. Ozone continues to cause lung damage even when the symptoms have disappeared. The best way to protect your health is to find out when ozone levels are elevated in your area and take simple precautions to minimize exposure even when you donít feel obvious symptoms.

How can unhealthy exposure to ozone be avoided? Chances of being affected by ozone increase with the amount of outdoor activity and the strenuous nature of the activity. If an activity requires heavy exertion, you could either reduce the time spent on the activity or substitute another activity that requires more moderate exertion (e.g., go for a walk rather than a jog). In addition, you could plan outdoor activities when ozone levels are lower, usually in the morning or evening.

Can we help the ground-level ozone problem? Yes, there are many simple steps citizens can take to help decrease the production of compounds that create ground-level ozone:

On and Off the Road

  1. Reduce automobile use by biking, walking, car or van pooling.

  2. When driving, avoid traffic congestion; plan an alternative route to avoid traditional stop-and-go rush-hour traffic.

  3. Avoid long periods of unnecessary idling.

  4. Combine trips whenever possible.

  5. Reduce fuel consumption (and associated emissions) by maintaining a vehicle to manufacturers' specifications. A well-tuned car with properly inflated, balanced and rotated tires uses less gasoline and emits fewer pollutants.

  6. Pick one day a week to leave your car at home. If only 1 percent of America's car owners did this, it would save millions of gallons of gasoline a year and keep a good deal of pollutants out of the atmosphere.

On the Homefront

  1. Conserve energy - at home, at work, everywhere. In the long term, it helps to reduce the emissions associated with energy production.

  2. Opt for water-based cleaning and painting products whenever possible.

  3. Apply paint with rollers and brushes instead of sprays; it cuts down on fumes.

  4. Enjoy summer barbecues, but avoid using charcoal lighter fluid. Consider natural gas, propane or electric grills as alternatives.

  5. Consider manual or electric-powered lawn and garden maintenance equipment when replacing a gasoline-powered mower.

At Work

  1. Try telecommuting.

  2. Install a bike rack for employees who wish to ride to work.

  3. Encourage businesses to buy and maintain fleets of energy-efficient cars and trucks.

Most Important

  1. Tell friends, family and co-workers what you are doing and why. Education and small modification of activities will do wonders for keeping air cleaner in your corner of the world.

An Ozone Action Partnership is a coalition of businesses, governments, community groups and individuals that educates the public about the dangers of ground-level ozone and encourages people to take voluntary actions to reduce their contributions to air pollution.

An Ozone Action Day is declared when exceptionally high concentrations of ground-level ozone are forecasted. The Partnership's participating businesses notify their employees so they can telecommute, share rides to work, use mass transit, and take other steps to help reduce smog. The Partnerships also notify the press so the public can pitch in too. Many Ozone Action Day programs offer email alerts services, to which you can subscribe, to advise you of possible high ozone days.

In this lesson, students will reflect upon all they have learned up to this point about ozone, create a list of actions citizens can take to reduce ground level ozone, and create a flyer (poster, web page) to educate others about ground level ozone.


  1. Create an informational flyer (poster, web page, etc.) about ground level ozone diesel particulate matter and why it is a problem in your region of the country. The flyer may focus on any aspect of the problem, but all flyers in some way must address the following points:

    • How ground-level ozone is formed

    • Why particulate matter is a concern.

    • Health concerns associated with ground level ozone and PM.

    • Steps citizens can take to decrease amounts of ground level ozone and PM generated.

    • Steps citizens can take to protect themselves in the event of a high pollution day.

    • Explain how diesel school bus retrofitting can improve air quality and can help limit childrens exposure to poor air quality.



  1. Student created informational media.
  2. How do you think scientists determined which amounts of pollutants are "good" or "unhealthy"? Do you think the reasons/criteria scientists use today might ever change? Why?


Implementation Tips
This lesson involves the students creating an educational piece about air pollution and retrofitting. The students should be allowed to be creative, but must maintain accuracy with the information presented. The suggested links will be extremely helpful for the students for this task. If you or your students chose to add other sources, please make sure that the information has been published by a reputable organization.

This lesson could be used as a long-term group assignment to be worked on outside of the classroom.


Using the AIRNow Ozone maps may help students locate areas of the U.S. with chronic ground level ozone and particulate matter problems.


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