World Environment Day: Teaching Your Kids About Air Pollution

Tomorrow, June 5th is World Environment Day.

This year focuses on air pollution, and the impact such pollution has on our environment. According to the EPA, Ireland’s current air quality is “good, relative to other European Union (EU) Member States, but maintaining this standard is a growing challenge.” This is why, this World Environment Day, you should take some time out to explain to your kids exactly what air pollution is, what causes it, and how we can all make an effort to improve air quality across the globe.  

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What is air pollution?

Air pollution can get complex when you go into the different levels of emissions etc, so it is best to keep things simple when explaining the topic to young children. Air pollution, in the simplest terms, occurs when chemicals, particles, and gases released into the atmosphere have a bad (negative) impact on any living thing on our planet (humans, plants, animals).

What causes air pollution?

There are different causes of air pollution, these include:

  • Natural Causes

Animals (namely cows) can cause damage to air quality by releasing methane gas into the atmosphere. Events such as forest fires or volcano eruptions can also cause natural air pollution.

  • Human Causes

Whilst there are natural causes for air pollution, us humans are mostly to blame for air pollution. Therefore, we should be the ones to try and fix it. Some ways people cause air pollution are:

  • Cars

  • Factories

  • Airplanes

  • Fossil Fuels burned to generate energy such as electricity

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How can we reduce air pollution?

The best way to teach your kids is to lead by example. Here are some simple steps you can take to reduce air pollution, and get your little ones to follow suit.

  1. Use public transport where possible - burning petrol or diesel in your car releases a lot of harmful emissions. Teach your kids the benefits of using public transport where possible in order to reduce air pollution - especially if you live in a town or city. You can even check the quality of air in your area here.

  2. Turn off lights - when leaving a room, always turn off lights or any other electronic devices. If you want to go one step further into reducing air pollution do some research into how your electric provider generates their power. See renewable energy companies here.

  3. Recycle - your kids could probably teach you all about recycling nowadays, but in case you need a refresher on the ‘rules of recycling’, click here.

  4. Go veggie - We’re not suggesting you change your diet completely, but perhaps eat vegetarian dishes a few times a week to help reduce air pollution. You can read about meat productions impact on the environment here.  

  5. Join the campaign - #WorldEnvironmentDay sees a global campaign for air pollution take place this year with the Mask Challenge. Don a mask covering your nose and mouth and post to social media (use a scarf, leaf, anything! It’s encouraged to get creative if you don’t have an actual mask). Use the hashtag above, as well as #BeatAirPollution and tag @UNEnvironment. Get the kids involved, as well as your friends and family. The idea of this campaign is to put pressure on governments and policy makers to prioritise air pollution and the environment.