K-12 Resources – Air Quality


Metro Vancouver develops and implements plans, policies, regulations and projects that improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This planning work is supported by real-time monitoring of outdoor air quality to track a range of air contaminants in the Lower Fraser Valley airshed. Air Quality management plans and monitoring guide policy and practices for a range of air contaminants, and consider health and visual air quality.




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K-12 Curriculum Connections – Air Quality

Air quality can be explored through the big ideas and core content at various grades in the B.C. K-12 curriculum, from simpler explorations at the Elementary level to more complex inquiries during the Secondary years. Through teacher-developed K-12 resources and learning opportunities, Metro Vancouver supports teachers and students to engage in curriculum-connected, place-based inquiry and learning about air quality in our region.

Download K-12 Curriculum Map – Air Quality


Pie in the Sky: What Impacts Air Quality in our Region?

While generally good, our region’s air quality is impacted by activities and events, both local and beyond our region. This Inquiry Spark Activity explores the sources of emissions from human activities that impact air quality in our region and supports learners to consider their experiences, choices and actions to care for the air we breathe.

Download Inquiry Spark 1

How does Air Quality Monitoring Help Us Care for the Air?

Air contaminants impact our health, contribute to climate change and affect the visual quality of our air. While we enjoy relatively good air quality in the Metro Vancouver region, data shows there is room for improvement. This Inquiry Spark Activity explores how and why air quality across Metro Vancouver is monitored to support our health, reduce climate change-causing emissions and help ensure we breathe cleaner air every day.

Download Inquiry Spark 2


    These brief activity ideas can be adapted into more fulsome activities to guide learner inquiry.

    Air Ratings

    Core Question: How is air quality measured and reported in the Metro Vancouver region?

    Overview: Explore the Metro Vancouver Satellite Map and consider what it can tell us about air quality on our region. How many air quality monitoring stations are there in Metro Vancouver? What patterns do you notice about where these are located? What geographical features on the map might influence air quality?

    Review the How’s the Air Out There? factsheet. What is an airshed? What is the Air Quality Health Index? What does it tell us? Why does Metro Vancouver have ‘air quality objectives’? What contaminants are we measuring? What can you do to help keep our air clean?

    Every Breath We Take

    Core Question: How does air quality impact our health?

    Overview: Make a list of positive and negative impacts people experience from the quality of the air they breath. Watch the video Air Quality in Metro Vancouver Part 1 to meet people who are affected by air quality and/or Air Quality in Metro Vancouver Part 2 to find out why young people are the most vulnerable to the impact of air pollution. Explore how improving air quality can free up millions of tax dollars for other priorities.

    Think of a time when you may have seen or experienced poor air quality. What did you notice? How did you feel? What can we do if we find ourselves in a situation where we know there are harmful air contaminants? Using one or more Did You Know facts from the list below, design and share a poster or a PSA for the web or TV to help others understand this problem and possible solutions.

    Did You Know:

    • When resting, the average adult breathes around 12 to 20 times a minute.
    • Each minute, we breath in the equivalent of 6 litres of air.
    • We breathe in and out about 22,000 times a day.
    • Lungs contain approximately 2,400 kilometres of airways and 300 to 500 million air sacs (alveoli).
    • More than 14,000 Canadians die each year due to air pollution.
    • One in five Canadians - six million adults and children - has a respiratory problem.
    • Over two million Canadians suffer from asthma.
    • Source: Canadian Lung Association

    Eye on the Sky

    Core Question: What can we do to care for the air?

    Overview: Think of activities you do every day that impact the air we breath. What could you possibly do differently to improve air quality in our region? Discuss with a partner or small group. Watch the video Air Quality in Metro Vancouver Part 4. Review and discuss the Lifestyle Choices that help improve air quality listed below. How might each choice support cleaner air? What other benefits might these lifestyle choices offer? Select some choices that you can make in your daily life. Narrow down your selections by identifying 2 or 3 that you could do consistently. Narrow down your selections again by choosing ONE action you will do consistently. Develop a communication tool: a slogan, jingle, tag line, or hashtag to sum up why you chose this to be your action item. Describe how you might use your communication tool to become a champion for clean air and encourage others to join you in taking action.

    Lifestyle Choices:

    • Active transportation (cycling or walking)
    • Planting a tree
    • Sorting waste so compostables do not go to the landfill
    • Teaching others about air quality and encouraging them to join you in taking one action to protect air quality
    • Asking adults to stop idling engines
    • Ask adults to help you plan a safe walking (or cycling) route to school instead of being dropped off and picked up
    • Wearing a sweater instead of asking to turn up the heat at home
    • Organizing a day at school when everyone is invited to wear a colourful sweater and you’ve arranged for the school to turn down the heat
    • Reducing food waste
    • Turning down the heat by 2 degrees Celsius in winter
    • Other (please specify)

    Our Actions and the Air We Breathe

    Core Question: How do our choices and actions impact air quality in our everyday lives?

    Overview: Divide a single sheet of paper into two halves lengthwise. On the top left side write the heading Emission Contributions, beneath which you’ll track a day’s worth of your own emissions that affect our local air quality. On the top right side write Emission Alternatives, beneath which you’ll track a day’s worth of alternative actions that you could take to lower your impact on our air quality.

    Beginning the next day, keep track of all the ways that you might be contributing to air quality emissions (e.g., driving in a car, turning on air conditioning, using chemical products etc.) and all the ways that you could mitigate or reduce your air quality emissions (e.g., biking to school, planting a tree or gardening, recycling properly etc.). At the end of the day, reflect on your list and consider the following questions:

    • How did you contribute emissions that impacted air quality today?
    • What small changes could you make in your daily life that might help you contribute fewer emissions that impact our air quality?
    • How do you think your list will be different a year from now? Five years from now?

    Talk Me into It! Exploring Transportation Choices

    Core Question: What influences transportation choices in our everyday lives?

    Overview: We can choose from many forms of transportation and each has different impacts and implications. This activity explores which form is most appropriate in various circumstances, and the environmental impacts our transportation choices have on air quality. Divide into teams of four and number off 1-4. Provide a scenario for all teams to consider. Possible scenarios include a trip from home to:

    • a grocery store to pick up a snack (half a kilometre)
    • school (one kilometre)
    • a field for soccer practice (two kilometres)
    • an interview for a summer job (five kilometres)
    • a friend’s house (twenty kilometres)

    Each team member’s number (1-4) corresponds to a transportation mode: 1 = car, 2 = bike, 3 = walk, 4 = public transit. For one minute each, convince the others in your group that your form of transportation is best for this scenario. Use descriptive language and stories to enhance your argument. Listen carefully to the other arguments - you might be able to use them in your presentation. Number off again differently and repeat the activity with a different scenario. Choose one of the scenarios and prepare a presentation to be shared. When finished, reflect on the following questions:

    • What impacts and considerations came up in your discussions?
    • In real life, which form of transportation would you have chosen for each of the scenarios? Why?
    • What would motivate you to consider alternative forms of transportation?
    • How are your transportation choices connected to air quality in our region?


Where can you learn more about air quality in Metro Vancouver?