Air Pollution Lesson for Kids: Definition & Facts

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  • 0:03 What Is Air Pollution?
  • 0:39 Causes of Air Pollution
  • 1:52 What You Can Do
  • 2:32 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Mary Grace Miller

Mary Grace has taught first grade for 8 years and has a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education and is licensed in ESL.

What is air pollution? What are the causes of it? What can kids do to help prevent it? In this lesson, you'll learn all about air pollution and ways that you can help lessen it.

What Is Air Pollution?

Air pollution occurs when gases, dust, smoke, or odor get into the air and make it unclean. Air pollution is unsafe for humans and animals to breathe and for plants to live with.

Earth is surrounded by an atmosphere, which is a layer of gases. When air pollution occurs, this harms the earth's atmosphere and causes problems for people. Air pollution can lead to diseases like bronchitis and can hurt people with asthma. It can even make it hard for children to grow properly. Pollution in the air can also get into the ground and water when it rains, harming plants and animals.

Causes of Air Pollution

Fossil Fuels

Fossil fuels are energy sources that occur naturally in the earth, like coal, oil, and natural gas. People rely on fossil fuels to create energy with which to live. For example, oil is used for gasoline for cars and trucks. But burning lots of fossil fuels also contributes to air pollution. Fossil fuels are released when people drive cars, trucks, boats, and trains, and fossil fuels are used in power plants to create electricity for people's homes, schools, and businesses.


Many of your toys, clothes, and even food products are produced in factories. Making these products uses energy and creates waste, which is often burned. Factories often have long chimneys at the top of them with lots of smoke coming out, releasing lots of chemicals into the air. These chemicals pollute the air and make it difficult for people to breathe.

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