What's The Air Forecast?

Activity 4 (Explain): The Criteria Air Pollutants

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Activity Summary

In this activity, students learn about the 6 Criteria Pollutants defined by the Clean Air Act and the EPA, and they are introduced to sources of these pollutants. They  use this information to think about what pollutant could be the cause of the haze in their pictures. Then they learn to look up current and historical AQI data to identify the pollutant that caused the haze in their picture.

Activity Objectives & Materials

Approximate Time: 60 minutes


  • Students will define air pollution

  • Students will know there are different kinds of air pollution, and some are more important for us to consider

  • Students will identify the pollutant that caused the Code Red Day in DC



  • Computer & projector

  • Air pollution information stations (printed & cut)

  • Sources of air pollution signs

  • Scissors (optional for foldable)


  • The Criteria Pollutants (foldable or regular) – see note below

  • Reading: The Region's Air Quality Reached Unhealthy Code Red Levels on Monday

Foldable handout (recommended): To use the foldable notes sheet, print it double-sided (flipped on the short side). See activity directions for folding.

Standards Connection




1. Frame the Activity


2. Types of Air Pollution

3. Identifying the 6 Criteria Pollutants


4. Where Does Air Pollution Come From?

5. Summarizing Criteria Pollutants and Sources

6. Story of a Code Red Day

7. Return to the Investigation Tracker

8. Formative Assessment


For more information about On the Air 2020, contact:

Rebecca Davis, Education Manager


For more information about Clean Air Partners, check out our website at:  www.cleanairpartners.net

© 2020 by Clean Air Partners.