Air pollution #7 – Effects of pollution on human health (secondary students)


Èlia Tena, Caterina Solé and Digna Couso


Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

The aim of this activity is to make students aware of the consequences of air pollution exposure to human health. They also learn about some of the human body’s passive mechanisms that protect us against pollutants suspended in the air. Students analyse how different particles present in the air (such as particulate matter in suspension, dust, CO2…) may penetrate their bodies and which passive mechanisms our bodies use to prevent intrusion.


  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15


  • Air pollution


  • Between 1-2 hours

Students’ resources

After asking students to imagine the path taken by gases and particulate matter pollutants inside the human body, this activity focuses on the relation between particle size and body penetration. Students are provided with a sketch of a human silhouette, including human body mechanisms to protect us against the penetration of external agents (e.g. noise hairs, mucus…). They are also presented with different kinds of particles, including particulate matter particles and gases and their approximate sizes.

Considering sizes of both human body mechanisms and particles, students need to identify to which extent each particle could penetrate our body. Finally, some main effects associated to being exposed to high levels of pollution are underlined.

Teachers’ resources

Effects of pollution on human health