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From the Fall 2011 Conservationist for Kids

boy on top of a NYS firetower

AIR It's all Around Us

By Gina Jack

Air: It's all around us. We can't see it, but we can see what it does.

  • The wind blows gentle breezes and raging gales.
  • Air contains the oxygen we need to breathe, and the carbon dioxide that plants require for photosynthesis.
  • Puffy clouds carry moisture from one part of our world to another, watering the earth below.

We take our air for granted, until something goes wrong. When your bedroom is messy, you can see it, but when the air gets messy-polluted-we can't always see the mess. Air pollution may be particulate matter: tiny particles in the air that irritate our lungs and leave a fine dust on the things they land on. Air pollution may also be in the form of gas. Gasses can't be seen, but some in our air are harmful to us and to plants and animals around us.

Clean air is important for our health. When the air is clean, we can breathe more easily and be more active, running and playing outdoors. (People with asthma sometimes have a great deal of trouble breathing when the air is polluted.) Plants grow better when the air is clean. Water and wildlife are healthier, too.