Air Pollution

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Updated on Sep 10, 2013

Air pollution is something often experienced, rather than seen. In the most extreme cases the presence of smog can overwhelm all the senses. Air pollutants such as vehicle emissions, industrial byproducts, and landfills produce greenhouse gases. These gases absorb energy from the sun thereby heating the earth, global warming. This temperature increase is predicted to lead to rises in sea level, changes in seasonal timing, and a decrease in biodiversity. Scientists use particle counters to classify and count the pollutants in the air. In this experiment, we will examine air pollution in our own environment by trapping the airborne particles and examining them under a microscope


How does air pollution differ in different environments?


  • Microscope slides
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Microscope (at least 10x magnification)
  • Shoe boxes
  • Home furnace air filter


  1. Take a glass microscope slide and smear a thin layer of petroleum jelly on to the top surface ensuring the entire surface is coated.
  2. Place the slide in the areas you frequent:
    • Bedroom
    • Kitchen
    • Garage
    • Backyard
    • Classroom
    • Car
  3. Label your slides according to its location.
  4. Place the slides in an open area, where the air flows freely.
  5. Wait 1-2 days and collect your slides.
  6. Using a microscope examine the particles that were trapped by the petroleum jelly.Can you classify the particles?What percentage of the slide is covered?‚Äč
  7. Compare slides from the indoors vs. the outdoors.
  8. Compare slides between the rooms of your home.
  9. Organize your data in a chart.






Incubation Time

24 hrs

24 hrs

24 hrs

24 hrs

24 hrs

Particle Contents

% Coverage






Melissa Bautista is a research scientist, freelance editor, and writer, with a focus in Neuroscience. She believes in establishing solid foundations in education through experience, creativity, and collaboration. She is fascinated by pedagogy and the concept of learning through living.

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