How clean is the air we breathe?

Since 2017, the European Space Agency’s Tropospheric Monitoring Instrument (Tropomi) has provided daily global readings of nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and particulate levels in the atmosphere. Here we show plumes of nitrogen dioxide on one of Northern Europe’s warmest days in 2019. Air travel is largely responsible for the noxious wake between Amsterdam and London; the Alps cause industrial pollutants to pool over Northern Italy; Marseille needs a stiff breeze to dissipate the fumes from cruise liners; and high pressure conditions can keep urban exhaust swirling over the UK.

If you would like to hear more about how an earlier version of this map was created, click here to see James’ interview with the Royal Geographical Society.

air air pollution climate change dawn
Photo by Pixabay on

Click here to access the Google Doc of these resources.

If you haven’t done so already click here to read about the Who? What? and Why? maps and graphics.

ActivityResource LinkAction
What’s the air like that you breathe? Explore the air pollution where you live or where you go to school using the address pollution website.addresspollution.orgGo for a walk and see how many signs of air pollution you can spot. Can you taste or smell air pollution?
Explore the map on p118. Where is the highest / lowest concentration of air pollution? Discuss why air pollution varies between countries and within them. What causes air pollution? Do the causes differ between countries and within them?Tell a friend which countries have the highest concentration of air pollution and why.
8.9 million people died due to air pollution in 2015 – what percentage of the world population is this?
Is this a significant amount? Research the main causes of death? How does air pollution compare? a tiktok to communicate the main causes of death around the world.
How do our everyday choices impact air pollution? In the UK the major source of air pollution is transport. Use the Sustrans website to help explore how to make the air
List as many different ways we could reduce air pollution and pledge to do one of them. Share what you do with your friends.
Did you know it’s illegal in the UK to sit stationary in your car with your engine running; this is called Engine Idling. Watch the video to explore the issue of engine idling in more a campaign to tackle engine idling. Make posters or a video to tell more people about the issue.
Indoor air pollution can be as harmful as outdoor air pollution. Explore the causes of indoor air pollution. Why do the causes of indoor air pollution vary around the world?
Watch the video about Indoor Air Pollution. Explore your house to find sources of air pollution. Do one thing to improve the air quality in your house.
Ella Robertson, from London, was the first person in the world to have Air Pollution as the cause of death on her death certificate. Watch the video exploring the circumstances of her the video to a friend or relative and discuss the key themes it raises. Explore ideas of how we can help to stop this happening again.
Read the news article and investigate the campaign techniques of Choked Up, a youth led campaign group from London. Explore the techniques used by the campaign
Be inspired by Choked Up and create your own version of the air pollution road signs. Use the mums for lungs resources to help inspire a campaign.