Catch the Pollution

Make yourself a pollution catcher to see what kinds of things may be polluting the air.

Particulate Matter Is a Problem

Our atmosphere is almost completely made up of invisible gaseous substances. Most major air pollutants are also invisible gaseous substances, although large amounts of them concentrate in areas such as cities can be seen as smog. However, one visible air pollutant is particulate matter. Particulate matter is made up of tiny particles of solid matter and/or droplets of liquid, and can be soot, ash, pollen, dust, etc...

There are some natural sources of particulate matter, such as volcanoes and the wind blowing up dust. Human sources, such as burning coal and oil in power plants, and burning wood in fireplaces, can send a lot of particles into the air also.

Particulate matter can be harmful to plant, animal and human life when the pollutants are breathed in. The particles can also make buildings and statues dirty.

Make a Pollution Catcher


  • Double-sided scotch tape
  • Food can (make sure it has something in it to make it heavy, such as beans or peas, or use an empty can filled with stones)
  • Magnifying lens
  • Marker
  • Optional: directional compass


  1. Find a place outdoors where you can sit the can without anyone touching it, such as a window ledge, or fence post.
  2. Take the can and peel the label off.
  3. Optional: Use the marker to write North, South, East, and West on the can. Use a compass to tell where north is. After completing step 4, place the can facing the right direction.
  4. Cover the sides of the can in double sided scotch tape. Try to touch the tape as little as possible.
  5. Place the can outside in the place you chose.

Did you catch any pollution?

After a week, check and see what kinds of things are stuck to the tape. You may want to use a magnifying lens to have a closer look. Did you catch any pollution?