Geography: Section 5

Solutions: Tackling Air Pollution

Although our air quality in Scotland is relatively good, when compared with other areas of the world, there is still room to make it even better. The Scottish Governments, Local Authorities, SEPA and other organisations all help to reduce air pollution, either in direct or indirect ways. Perhaps one of the most important people involved in tackling air pollution is you.

You and Your Family

We, as individuals, can work together to help make our air cleaner and air pollution levels will fall. There are many ways you and your family can help improve the air quality in Scotland. It might not seem like much, but if everyone does a little, it will have a great effect.

Travel and Transport


Think about your journey: Do you have to go by car, or could you use another method?

  • Walking
  • Cycling – tried and tested for 190 years. Still zero emissions
  • Public Transport – put your feet up and relax, catch up on your reading
  • Car Sharing – share the journey, have a laugh
  • Try to travel outside peak times where possible: less congestion means faster journeys, which in turn creates less pollution. We can't always change when we go to school or work, but less important journeys, such as shopping or visiting friends, can be done at quieter times of the day.
  • Avoid leaving your engine idling when not in use: New laws mean your parents could be issued with a fine!
  • Service your car regularly: Keep the engine properly tuned and the tyres at the right pressure. A happy car is an efficient car!
  • Conserve energy wherever possible. Turn off appliances like your television or radio when not in use.
  • Don't forget to switch off lights when you leave the room.
  • Recycle paper, plastic, glass bottles, cardboard, and aluminium cans. This conserves energy and reduces production emissions.
  • Turn down the thermostat in your home.
  • Wash clothes with warm or cold water instead of hot.
  • Buy rechargeable batteries for devices used frequently.
  • Try growing your own fruit and veg rather than buying it
  • Plant trees to help green our cities

It’s now time to think about the ways in which we can tackle air pollution and improve the quality of our air.

You can download & print an Activity Sheet and Homework Sheet to go with this section here.

Virtual City Game

Throughout the package you have learnt about and used fieldwork to measure the effect that traffic has on air quality. You can now use the VIRTUAL CITY GAME which is an interactive tool to see how changing the numbers of vehicles on the road and fuel type can lead to reductions in air pollution

Virtual City

Click Here to use the Virtual City

Greening Our Towns and Cities

Planting more trees and creating green spaces can help remove certain pollutants from our air such as ozone, nitrogen dioxide, fine particles and carbon dioxide. Not only does this help improve air quality but it also contributes to reducing the greenhouse gasses that cause climate change.

Greening our towns and cities has other benefits as well both for our health and wellbeing and our environment. Creating green spaces will help make our local areas more pleasant to live in. These spaces will attract wildlife and give homes to plants and animal species. Green spaces also help to improve our physical wellbeing as often these areas are used for walking, cycling or other forms of exercise.

You could help create green spaces by planting a window box, growing your own fruit and vegetables, volunteering to help look after your school or community garden or taking part in volunteering with local park rangers.


Educating people about air pollution is an incredibly important way of improving the quality of our air. Projects in your school will help to raise people’s awareness about the causes and impacts of air pollution. It also helps to let people know what they can do to tackle air pollution. Even small changes to our day to day lives can make a big difference to the quality of the air we breathe. Think about passing on some advice or information you have learned so far about air pollution. By passing on what you know you will help others to make a difference.
Part of passing the message on might involve your school or community group taking part in one of the following activities:

  • Create a display within your school
  • Design a leaflet with action points to give to pupils and parents
  • Create a podcast
  • Star in your own advert
  • Design posters to put up informing people of what they can do to help
  • Deliver a lesson or presentation to others

If you are a school using this site you could encourage your pupils to share their knowledge with others and promote positive action for change by completing the activity suggested in the teacher instructions booklet under the heading Take Action. The teacher instructions can be downloaded via the Downloads section.

Other Citizen Science Projects

You may want to take part in another citizen science project to learn more about air quality and carry out your own research. For further information you can explore the following projects: