Why It Matters
Who are the real villains?
Would you ever imagine craft time in kindergarten as an evil act against air quality? What about cheering on your favorite sports team? According to scientists, these are just a few unusual and unexpected contributions to poor air quality:
- Students might need to rethink “Spare the Air” days and take their work on craft projects outside: School classroom air may be more polluted with ultrafine particles than outdoor air
- Do you use the stovetop fan when you cook? Maybe you should think about it: Kitchen exhaust fans vary in effectiveness in reducing indoor air pollution
- When you attend a night game at a major sports facility and the bright lights are shining down on the players, do you think of ozone depletion? Night games in sports stadiums and street lighting can cause spike in daytime ozone air pollution
- Is your first thought when you see a beetle, “Aack, that bug is just destroying our air!”? Bark beetles bore through trees which release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as a defense mechanism. Check it out: Beetle-infested pine trees contribute more to air pollution and haze in forests
Who would have thought? Sometimes the causes of air pollution are less obvious than we might think!
- Check out your current local air quality! Visit AIRNow’s website ( [http://airnow.gov/) http://airnow.gov/])] and enter your zip code in the upper right hand corner.
- Look at the Air Quality Index on the right hand side. What is today’s high supposed to be?
- What are the current conditions? How do they relate to the forecasted high?
- How does your zip code’s air quality relate to surrounding areas? How does it relate to the rest of the state? How does it relate to the rest of the United States?
- Why do you think that there are differences between your local air quality and the rest of the state/country? What factors might be different?
- Check out your local government’s push to clean up the air and find out how you can become more involved. For example, in the San Francisco Bay Area, there are “Spare the Air” days when people are encouraged to use public transportation or ride their bikes: Spare The Air In Washington, the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency encourages people to turn off their vehicles when dropping students off for school: No Idle Zone Program
- Get your school to participate in the Cool School Challenge sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation. Click here for more information.
American Chemical Society. http://portal.acs.org/portal/acs/corg/content?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=PP_ARTICLEMAIN&node_id=223&content_id=CNBP_023719&use_sec=true&sec_url_var=region1&__uuid=af7c8049-fe1d-44df-8564-c370970a4b3b
Spare the Air Organization. Bay Area Air Quality Management District. http://sparetheair.org/
Puget Sound Clear Air Agency. http://www.pscleanair.org/actions/vehicles/schools.aspx
National Wildlife Federation. http://www.nwf.org/Global-Warming/School-Solutions/Eco-Schools-USA/Become-an-Eco-School/Cool-School-Challenge.aspx