Air Pollution

Air pollution is big news. It causes 40,000 premature deaths in the UK each year. It is not just the elderly, but everyone that is affected. Passengers in cars can be exposed to five times as much NOX and particulate matter than those travelling actively (see the video featuring Dame Vivienne Westwood below).

It's an engaging and thought-provoking topic that can be linked to STEM curriculum outcomes.

You can combine some air pollution monitoring with the Sustrans Big Street Survey.


The Hertfordshire & Bedfordshire Air Quality Network holds data for local pollution levels. This data can be used for maths challenges and developing analytical skills. Some example data taken with diffusion tubes over a number of years can be viewed here.

The Learning About Air Quality website is a great resource for lesson plans and further information for all ages. Air Pollution Detectives is good for younger year groups. You can use an air pollution journey calculator, where there is even an equation for older children to draw comparisons between different cars/criteria.

You can get an air pollution monitor for the school, where you can download data on particulates inside and out. This is a good one. Data can be used in lessons and to help develop ideas to improve air quality around the school.

There are new personal air pollution monitors which can be used by pupils and families to monitor routes and journeys to school:

Speak to us about getting hold of diffusion tubes to measure NO2 around the school or on routes to school (contact us).

We have a Cleanspace Tag CO pollution monitor linked to a tablet computer. You are welcome to borrow this (contact us).

CHILL is a project on air pollution that schools in Luton and Dunstable are involved in.

Take a look below for some fantastic resources for you to use in and out of the classroom.


This resource from the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh helps pupils understand what a bio-indicator is in biology and environmental studies. By analysing quantity, size and diversity of lichen on trees it is possible to estimate air pollution levels. Compare trees that are close to busy roads, with those on quieter roads and those away from roads altogether.


Click here to view resource.

The London Sustainability Exchange has produced this guide for primary schools. There are tips for monitoring pollution levels, including low cost techniques using moist balls of cotton wool. There are activity sheets and lesson plans.

Click here to view resource.

The London Sustainability Exchange has produced this guide for secondary schools. It links to the KS3 curriculum for science, geography and citizenship. Lesson plans and worksheets cover things such as mapping pollution levels.

Click here to view resource.

This pack from Friends of the Earth has a series of lesson plans that allow pupils to discuss the issues around air pollution. The full pack, which includes posters, stickers and two diffusion tubes, can be ordered here.

Click here to view resource.

The Campaign for Healthy Air/ClientEarth has produced this guide containing activities for KS1 and KS2 linking into the national curriculum for science, English and maths.

Click here to view resource.

These school resources accompany Clean Air Day 2019 for KS1, KS2 and KS3. They are simplistic, but have some good links to other resources.

Click here to view resource.

Find out more about the work Sustrans has done with schools in Lambeth. The charity worked with a number of schools specifically on air pollution, empowering the schools, parents and pupils to push for infrastructure around the schools designed to minimise exposure to air pollution.

Click here to learn about the schools' 'Airmazing Journeys'.