Why care about air quality and human health?

  • Air pollutants cause more than 500,000 deaths annually. 1
  • Living in a very smoggy city increases the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared to someone living in a city with the cleanest air.  2
  • Children growing up in polluted areas tend to have smaller lungs (about 20%). This is the same drop seen in children growing up in a home with parents who smoke. 3
  • In the U.S., exposures to power plant mercury and air toxics cause:
    • 17,000 premature deaths per year
    • 11,000 heart attacks per year
    • 120,000 cases of asthma symptoms in children per year
    • 11,000 cases of bronchitis in children per year
    • 12,000 emergency visits per year
    • 850,000 days of missed work due to illness per year 4
  • Nearly 80% of Americans are heavily influenced by incorrect or outdated environmental myths. 5
  • 56% of Americans want to take action to protect the environment, but they don’t know what to do. 5

What did the development process include?

Several steps were completed to identify the best lesson plans and resources based on sound evidence and pedagogical principles. These steps included:

  • performing a needs assessment and environmental scan
  • retrieving and reviewing existing resources/lesson plans
  • blueprinting of the lesson plans to the Colorado curriculum standards (Colorado Department of Education and Colorado Student Assessment Program)
  • reviewing the lesson plans/resources against criteria for effective education
  • reviewing and rating of the lesson plans by educators. 

For additional detail and information about the developmental process please download the report, Bridging Colorado’s Youth and Educators to Environment-Human Health Research.


  1. Nel, Andre.  Science.  May 6, 2005. Col 308 No. 5723 pgs 804-806.  http://www.sciencemag.org/content/308/5723/804.short.
  2. Boyles, Salan.  Air Pollution Linked to Heart Deaths.  Jan. 31, 2007.  http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/news/20070131/air-pollution-linked-heart-deaths.  Accessed August 1, 2011.
  3. American Lung Association.  State of the Air 2011.  http://www.stateoftheair.org/2011/health-risks/health-risks-childrens.html.  Accessed 7/29/2011.
  4. EPA Proposes First National Standard for Mercury Pollution from Power Plants.  EPA Newsroom.  http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/8b770facf5edf6f185257359003fb69e/ccfc03484502c0698525785500728436!OpenDocument&Start=1&Count=5&Expand=2  Accessed August 1, 2011.
  5. Coyle, Kevin.  Environmental Literacy in America.  September 2005.  http://www.neefusa.org/pdf/ELR2005.pdf