PoIIution

Whut's the soIution?









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We’ve all heard the term pollution. But do you really know what pollution is? Do you
know where pollution comes from, or how it affects plants, animals and people? Let’s
take closer look at what pollution is, what causes pollution, and what we can do to help
reduce pollution.

What is pollution?

Simply put, pollution is the contamination of soil, water, or air by discharging harmful
substances. There are a few different types of pollution, each with its own causes,
problems, and way of reduction. The three basic types of pollution are: environmental
(land), marine (water), and atmospheric (air).

Environmental Pollution

Environmental pollution affects the land. Litter, soil contamination, deforestation, and
consumption of non-renewable resources are all forms of environmental pollution.
Environmental pollution affects every living creature, even those found in the oceans and
in the air.



As far as scientists know, humans are the only creatures to create pollution. Take a walk
outside. Everywhere you go there are signs of human impact on their surroundings.
Environmental pollution can come in the form of an empty Mountain Dew bottle on the
side of the road, a clear-cut forest, or tires in a landfill. Humans have had a significant
impact (often negative) on their environment. Can you think of other forms of
environmental pollution? Once you learn how to start looking for signs of pollution, you
can learn how to reduce pollution.

Air Pollution

The air we breathe is important for obvious reasons. The average human breathes about
3,400 gallons of air each day! What would happen if the air became too polluted for us
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to breathe? All of Earth’s living organisms would die. The air we breathe is made up of
a variety of gasses and compounds, though primarily oxygen and nitrogen.

So how does the air we breathe become polluted? What causes air pollution? Again the
answer to the causes of air pollution is simple: humans cause air pollution. Factories,
power plants, automobiles, and industrial emissions change the air’s composition by
creating ground level ozone.


Power Plants and other industrial waste increases the amount of Ground-Level Ozone

Ozone is a gas that is composed of three oxygen atoms (O3). It is created by the oxides in
the air’s nitrogen reaction with volatile organic compounds (VOC). Normally we think
of ozone being higher in the atmosphere, also known as “good” ozone. However, when
the conditions are right, ozone can occur at ground level, which is known as “bad” ozone.
Sunlight and hot weather cause “bad” ozone in harmful concentrations. Thus in the
summertime, urban areas have to be concerned about the amount of “bad” ozone. Why do
you think urban areas are more prone to having problems with “bad” ozone?

“Bad” ozone creates a variety of health problems in people. People who are repeatedly
exposed to breathing contaminated air have an increased chance of suffering from
respiratory problems. Children and older people are the most affected.

Ground level ozone also interferes with the ability of plants to produce and store food. It
damages the leaves of trees and other plants, and contributes to a reduction in crop
productivity, because the plants are more vulnerable to disease, pests, and harsh weather.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is also a threat to the air we breathe. CO is formed when the
carbon in fuel is not burned properly. The largest factor of CO emissions is automobiles.
Cars, trucks, and buses account for 56% of the Earth’s carbon monoxide emissions. CO
is also formed naturally. Forest fires and other fuel combustion (such as having a fire in
your fireplace) also cause carbon monoxide to be emitted into the air.

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Carbon Monoxide is toxic to humans. Even healthy people can be affected by carbon
monoxide. People who breathe high levels of CO can develop vision problems, redued
ability to work or learn, or have difficulty performing complex tasks. People who have
heart disease may cause chest pains or other more serious cardiovascular effects.

The problem with air pollution is that it looks to be increasing in toxicity rather than
being solved or reduced. More and more people are driving automobiles or trucks. And
the Earth’s growing population is requiring more electricity to be generated at power
plants. Do some research on what the air quality is like near your house or school. The
Environmental Protection Agency monitors air quality by using the Air Quality Index
(AQI). Are you surprised at the findings?

Water Pollution

Over 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water. This alone makes water a very
important issue. However, the Earth’s water resources and potable water supply is in
danger of becoming contaminated. When water becomes contaminated, it is considered
polluted.

There are essentially two different forms of water pollution: oceanic water pollution and
drinking water contamination.



The oceans are home to some of the most interesting plants and animals on Earth. As
humans, we rely on the oceans to provide us with food. And we also require safe
drinking water to sustain life. So, if our water sources become polluted or contaminated,
all of the living organisms suffer the consequences.

Nothing we add to the Earth’s water ever fully disappears. It may be easy to dispose of
waste in a lake, river, or ocean, thinking that once it is carried by the tide or current, it’ll
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disappear. But the truth is that the pollution will reappear downstream or on a distant
shore, affecting the environment each step of the way.

Freshwater sources and oceans have an amazing natural ability to break down some
waste materials, but not in the quantities discarded by today's society. The overload that
results eventually puts the ecosystem out of balance.

Sometimes nature itself can create these imbalances. But most often our waterways are
being polluted by municipal, agricultural and industrial wastes, including many toxic
synthetic chemicals which cannot be broken down at all by natural processes. Even in
tiny amounts, some of these substances can cause serious harm to the plants and animals
that live in or near the water.

So how exactly are we affected by water pollution? Water pollution can have significant
impacts on our food sources, the formation of acid rain, and our drinking water.

But before we look at how we’re affected by water pollution, we must first look at how
water recycles itself, known as the water cycle.



The Earth never increases the amount of water it contains, nor does it ever lose any of its
water. The Earth’s water is recycled in three ways: evaporation, condensation, and
precipitation.

When the sun heats up the Earth’s oceans, rivers, and lakes the water is turned into water
vapor or steam (evaporation). When the water vapor rises into the atmosphere it collects
in the forms of clouds (condensation). We all know what clouds do. When clouds get
too saturated and heavy with water vapor, they release it in the form of precipitation
(rain, snow, sleet, etc.).

So, now that we know how the water cycle works, we can better understand what
happens when something goes wrong.
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If we add pollutants into any step of the water cycle, the whole cycle is affected. Try to
visualize pollutants going through the whole cycle. What are the causes of pollutants and
effects they have on each step of the water cycle?

What’s the Pollution Solution?

For a long time we’ve been told of the consequences of polluting our land, water and air.
But, how do we reverse the trend? The best way to combat pollution is through
education. When we learn what causes pollution, what its effects are, we can think of
solutions and think help prevent it.

We all have needs. The Earth is very generous in supplying humans with an abundance
of natural resources to help us exist more comfortably. Coal can be turned into
electricity, which helps to provide humans with light. The sea provides us with enough
cod (as well as many other types of fish) to feed the people who live in the coastal
regions. The truth is that natural resources are provided to us for us to consume.

Yet we need to consume responsibly.

Simply by turning off a light switch when you leave a room, riding your bike instead of
driving, or re-using grocery bags, you are helping to reduce your consumption of
resources. There are a ton of ways you can help the environment and reduce pollution.
Afterall the easiest way to reduce pollution is to reduce consumption. By reducing the
amount of resources we use and making simple, environmentally friendly decisions, we
can help to reverse the global trends of pollution.


Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling are the simplest ways of combating pollution!

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IDEAS FOR THE CLASSOOM

Title: How Clean is Your School’s Air?

Objective: Students will better understand the difference between visible and invisible
air pollutants. Students will use the scientific method to create an experiment,
record findings, draw conclusions, and evaluate method.

State Standards Met:
10.A.2a Organize and display data using pictures, tallies, tables, charts, bar
graphs, line graphs, line plots and stem-and-left graphs.
10.B.2a Formulate questions of interest and select methods to systematically
collect data.
10.B.2b Collect, organize and display data using tables, charts, bar graphs and
line graphs.
10.B.3 Formulate questions, devise and conduct experiments or simulations,
gather data, draw conclusions and communicate results to an audience using
traditional methods and contemporary technologies.
11.A.2a Formulate questions on a specific science topic and choose the steps
needed to answer the questions.
11.A.2b Collect data for investigations using scientific process skills including
observing, estimating and measuring.
11.A.2d Use data to produce reasonable explanations.
11.A.3a Formulate hypotheses that can be tested by collecting data.
11.A.3b Conduct scientific experiments that control all but the variable.
11.A.3c Collect and record data accurately using consistent measuring and
recording techniques and media.
11.A.3d Explain the existence of unexpected results in a data set.
11.A.3e Interpret and represent results of analysis to produce findings.
13.A.2d Compare the relative effectiveness of reducing, reusing, and recycling in
actual situations.
13.A.3f Apply classroom-developed criteria to determine the effects of policies
on local science and technology issues (e.g. energy consumption, landfills,
water/air quality).

Materials:
chart paper
measuring cups
For each group you will need:
small glass jar
large glass jar
petroleum jelly

Procedure: Have students think of what pollutes the air. Write these answers down on
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chart paper. Divide the list into Visible and Invisible air pollutants. Discuss the
implications both have on living things.
Divide the class into groups. Each student must keep a record of their findings.
Smear petroleum jelly on the outside of the small jar. Put the small jar inside the
larger jar. Decide as a class on several places in and around the school where
students think visible air pollution is likely to occur. Each group should have a
different place to test. Students should make predictions about which area will
have more visible pollutants and why. Record predictions on the School Air
Quality worksheet.
Place the jars in the specified areas for a number of days, having students
regularly observe the jars. At the end of the experiment (one week is sufficient),
bring the jars into the classroom for comparison. Observe and rank the jars from
the one with the most visible pollutants to the cleanest. Assign each jar a number.
Discuss what might have led to the outcome. Discuss why certain areas have
more visible pollutants than others.
Use a map of the school to record where each jar was located. Repeat this test
later in the year and see if there are any changes (school’s climate and thermostat
has a significant impact on the air quality).




























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Name________________________

My SchooI's Air QuoIify

There ore fwo fypes of poIIufonfs fhof ore found in fhe oir: VisibIe ond InvisibIe. Todoy we
ore going fesf for visibIe oir poIIufonfs oround our schooI.

Lisf some of fhe common visibIe oir poIIufonfs.
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________

Con you fhink of ony invisibIe oir poIIufonfs7 Lisf fhem beIow.
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________

Where do you fhink visibIe oir poIIufion is IikeIy fo occur oufside of your schooI7
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________

Moke o hypofhesis obouf where visibIe oir poIIufonfs mighf be found in your schooI.
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________

Pecord your findings in fhe chorf beIow.
Date/Time Location Observations







Compore your jor's poIIufonfs wifh ofher groups. Whof number did your jor ronk7 Whof
mighf hove coused fhis oreo fo be more or Iess poIIufed fhon ofhers7
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
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Title: What’s The Deal With All This Litter?

Objective: Students will better understand the impact of litter in the community.
Students will educate the rest of the school’s students about the problems
associated with litter and get them to think about where to throw trash away or re-
use it.

State Standards Met:
10.A.2a Organize and display data using pictures, tallies, tables, charts, bar
graphs, line graphs, line plots and stem-and-left graphs.
10.A.2c Make predictions and decisions based on data and communicate their
reasoning.
10.B.2a Formulate questions of interest and select methods to systematically
collect data.
10.B.2b Collect, organize and display data using tables, charts, bar graphs and
line graphs.
10.B.2d Interpret results or make relevant decisions based on the data gathered.
10.B.3 Formulate questions, devise and conduct experiments or simulations,
gather data, draw conclusions and communicate results to an audience using
traditional methods and contemporary technologies.
13.A.2d Compare the relative effectiveness of reducing, reusing, and recycling in
actual situations.
13.A.2f Analyze how specific personal and societal choices that humans make
affect local, regional, and global ecosystems.
13.A.3e Identify advantages and disadvantages of natural resource conservation
and management programs.
13.A.3f Apply classroom-developed criteria to determine the effects of policies
on local science and technology issues (e.g. energy consumption, landfills, water
quality).

Materials: Map of the school and school grounds

Procedure: Have students think about where they are likely to see litter in the
community. Have them think of ways they could educate other students about the
problems associated with litter.
Divide students into groups of three or four. Have the groups create an
environmental awareness poster to be displayed inside the school. If possible,
allow the students to decide where the poster should be hung, so that it is likely to
be seen by the most students.
Next, give each group a map of the school and the school grounds. Have students
hypothesize where they are likely to see the most litter. Assign each group a
specific area inside the school and outside the school. Students must then observe
if there is any litter in the area, record their findings, map their progress, and
dispose of the litter properly.


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Title: The Recycling Survey

Objectives: Students will help to design a survey to gain a greater understanding of the
community’s attitudes toward recycling. Students will measure the results using
median and average to develop a graphic organizer to display their findings.

State Standards Met:
10.A.2a Organize and display data using pictures, tallies, tables, charts, bar
graphs, line graphs, line plots and stem-and-left graphs.
10.A.2b Using a data set, determine mean, median, mode and range with and
without the use of technology.
10.A.2c Make predictions and decisions based on data and communicate their
reasoning.
10.A.3b Compare the mean, median, mode and range, with and without the use of
technology.
10.B.2a Formulate questions of interest and select methods to systematically
collect data.
10.B.2b Collect, organize and display data using tables, charts, bar graphs and
line graphs.
10.B.2c Analyze the data using mean, median, mode and range, as appropriately,
with or without the use of technology.
11.A.2a Formulate questions on a specific science topic and choose the steps
needed to answer the questions.
11.A.2b Collect data for investigations using scientific process skills including
observing, estimating and measuring.
12.E.2c Identify and classify recyclable materials.
13.A.2d Compare the relative effectiveness of reducing, reusing, and recycling in
actual situations.
13.A.2f Analyze how specific personal and societal choices that humans make
affect local, regional, and global ecosystems.
13.A.3f Apply classroom-developed criteria to determine the effects of policies
on local science and technology issues (e.g. energy consumption, landfills, water
quality).

Procedure: As a class begin a K-W-L chart about recycling. For the W-section, have
students develop questions about people’s attitudes toward recycling, its
practicality, its benefits, its shortcomings, etc.
As a class develop a scientific survey to be passed out or given orally to members
of the community. The project works really well when students conduct it over
the phone to local businesses, residents, community workers, and community
politicians.
Make sure that the survey touches on both individual recycling habits and the
recycling habits of businesses or at work.
For information on designing a survey download the pdf file:
http://www.amstat.org/sections/srms/brochures/designquest.pdf

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Questions for the Chut Room

Topic: PoIIufion soIufions ond Cosfo Picon Conservofion

What forms of pollution are there? Which is the worst?

What happens if the air becomes polluted? What causes air pollution?

Who is affected by dirty ocean water? Can we fix what’s already been done?

Is Costa Rica an environmentally friendly country?

Why has Costa Rica set aside so much land for conservation and biological research?

What is ecotourism?

How can we help to fight pollution?

How are pollution, global warming, and deforestation all related?

How many species of animals live in Costa Rica? How many are threatened or
endangered?

How does what we do at home affect Costa Rica? If we pollute, we’re only polluting
ourselves, right?

What are some of the health concerns associated with pollution?

Why is water treatment such an important global issue?

How are the national parks and bio reserves protected in Costa Rica? Who protects
them?

What are some of the threats facing parklands in Costa Rica?

What is the best way to get people to realize the importance of every ecosystem in the
world?

How can I make a difference in conservation efforts? What do I have to do?

How can I help the conservationists of Costa Rica protect more lands?

We all need to use wood and natural resources. Are there ways to use them without
hurting the environment? How can I use resources responsibly?


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Glossary:

Acid Rain – n. The term "acid rain" is commonly used to mean the deposition of acidic
components in rain, snow, fog, dew, or dry particles. The more accurate term is "acid
precipitation." Distilled water, which contains no carbon dioxide, has a neutral pH of 7.
Liquids with a pH less than 7 are acidic, and those with a pH greater than 7 are alkaline
(or basic). "Clean" or unpolluted rain has a slightly acidic pH of 5.6, because carbon
dioxide and water in the air react together to form carbonic acid, a weak acid. Pollution
that is considered to be acidic has a pH of >4.8.

Air Quality Index (AQI) – n. The AQI tells you how clean the air is and whether it will
affect your health. EPA, state, and local agencies work together to report current and
forecast conditions for ozone and particle pollution.

Atmospheric Ozone – n. “good ozone” The stratosphere or "good" ozone layer extends
upward from about 6 to 30 miles and protects life on Earth from the sun's harmful
ultraviolet (UV) rays.

Carbon Monoxide – n. Abbreviated CO. Colorless gas or liquid; practically odorless.
Common sources of CO in schools are from improperly vented furnaces, malfunctioning
gas ranges, or exhaust fumes that have been drawn back into the building. Worn or
poorly adjusted and maintained combustion devices ( e.g. boilers, furnaces) can be
significant sources, or a flue that is improperly sized, blocked, disconnected, or leaking.
Auto, truck, or bus exhaust from attached garages, nearby roads, or idling vehicles in
parking areas can also be a source.

Compound – n. A substance consisting of atoms or ions of two or more different
elements in definite proportions that cannot be separated by physical means. A compound
usually has properties unlike those of its constituent elements.

Condensation – n. The process by which a gas or vapor changes to a liquid.
Evaporation – n. To convert or change into a vapor. To draw off in the form of vapor.
To draw moisture from, as by heating, leaving only the dry solid portion.
Ground Level Ozone – n. “bad” Ozone. Ground-level or "bad" ozone is not emitted
directly into the air, but is created by chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen
(NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the presence of sunlight. Emissions
from industrial facilities and electric utilities, motor vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapors, and
chemical solvents are some of the major sources of NOx and VOC.
Potable – adj. Fit to drink.

Precipitation – n. Any form of water, such as rain, snow, sleet, or hail, that falls to the
earth's surface.

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Web Resources:

EPA’s AIRNow for Kids
http://www.epa.gov/airnow/aqikids_new - A fun activity for kids to learn about the air
quality index where they live.

Water Savers
http://www.fi.edu/guide/hongell/water.html - A Community Science Action Guide is a
quick and interesting look at how to lower water consumption.

The Water Cycle
http://www.kidzone.ws/water

The USGS Water Science for Schools
http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/mwater.html - The best resource for information about the
Water Cycle and general water basics I’ve found on the web.

The Ocean’s In Trouble!
http://projects.edtech.sandi.net/grant/oceanpollution - A great web quest for 4
th
– 6
th

graders.

Pollution Solution
http://www.mi.mun.ca/mi-net/enviro/pollut.htm - A good look at how pollution affects
animals, plants, and other aspects of life.






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