Study of pollutants in Air


To study the presence of suspended particulate matter in the air at different sites.


Pollution is the addition of any substances into the natural environment that makes it harmful to humans, animals and plants. Substances that cause pollution to the environment are called pollutants. Pollutants can be either foreign substances/energies or naturally occurring contaminants. The three main forms of pollution are air pollution, water pollution and land pollution. We will look at the air pollution in this experiment.

Air pollution

Air pollution is the contamination of the air, by the introduction of particulates, smoke or harmful gases into the atmosphere.  Some air pollutants are poisonous, which makes it difficult for plants, animals and humans to survive. The atmosphere in highly populated areas are very rich in dust, smoke and suspended particular matter, all due to vehicular exhausts and industrial emission. Air pollution causes major respiratory and heart problems in our bodies.

Let’s look at some of the major air pollutants.

Major air pollutants are following:

  • Carbon Monoxide: Emitted from combustion processes.
  • Ground-level Ozone: Secondary pollutant formed by chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the presence of sunlight.
  • Lead: Lead can be released into the air through metal refineries, battery manufacturing, volcanic eruptions, sea spray and bushfires.
  • Nitrogen Dioxide: NO2 forms from power plants, by fuel combustion and wood burning.
  • Particulate Matter: Particulate matter is a sum of all extremely small particles and liquid droplets suspended in air. This is formed through chemical reactions, fuel combustion (e.g., burning coal, wood, diesel), industrial processes and farming (plowing, field burning).

Learning Outcomes:

  • Students understand the term pollution.
  • Students understand different air pollutants.
  • Students do the experiment better in the real lab having gone through the animation and simulation.