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3rd-Particulate Matter & the Air Quality Index

Third grade teachers at Milam Elementary on Fort Bliss military base in El Paso, Texas, were concerned about the film of black residue in the air generated by the military vehicles in their training exercises. At recess one day, the children showed the teacher how the residue had accumulated on the fence. The teachers mentioned this to the military liaison assigned to the school. He met with the officials in charge of the training maneuvers. Within a few weeks these exercises were relocated to areas away from the school, and they were rescheduled to avoid school hours.

The teachers wanted the third graders to understand the contaminants in the air so they could avoid heavy exercise outdoors on days with high levels of ozone or particulate matter. With this information the students and teachers started a district-wide ozone monitoring information program.

Teachers: Rosetta Baquera, Rita Farina, Nate Selken, and Lorena Arriaga, Amy Canales, Summer Steele.

  • Particulate matter is in the air and can build up in airways and lungs.
  • Ozone, at ground level, is an invisible gas created by fossil fuel combustion, and it can cause breathing difficulties.
  • Playing outdoors when the air pollution is bad can cause breathing problems.
  • Breathing particulate matter or ozone can increase the risk and effects of asthma.
  • Many cities, including El Paso, have several ozone alert days each year and information about ozone levels in the air is available to the public.
  • The Air Quality Index and Ozone level rating scales warn citizens so they can avoid outdoor exercise on days with high ozone.

3rd Introduction

3rd Background Information

3rd Inquiry Activities