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Let's Talk Pollution Resources

Factory smokestacks
Factory smokestacks

How does this align with my curriculum?

Discover a set of resources designed to get you thinking about pollution.

What do you think of when you think of the word "pollution"? Do you picture garbage lining a beach? Do you think of sewage water flowing strongly out of a storm drain into a body of water? You could have thought of any number of different things, and this is one of the problems with pollution: it takes on many forms, and it could be anywhere. Scientists studying debris images captured by divers and vehicles discovered a plastic bag 36,000 feet below the ocean, in the Mariana Trench. Waste and pollution are becoming an increasing problem at the opposite end of the world, at the basecamp for and on the trails leading up Mount Everest in Nepal. Pollution is pervasive and gets into everything. You may have learned about acid rain, but have you heard of plastic rain? In a recent issue of Science Janice Brahney, et al. found that rain and wind carry microplastic particles everywhere, including into protected areas like national parks and the Arctic, accumulating 1,000 metric tons of plastic yearly just in the American West. Air pollution is another major problem. A 2021 report from Health Canada found that air pollution contributes to 15,300 premature deaths in Canada every year. On top of that, what we think of as 'air pollution' are often greenhouse gases, the major contributing factor toward climate change.

Let's Talk Pollution, from Let's Talk Science at Queen's University, is a conference geared towards Grades 9 -12 students (ages 15-18). We have exciting talks from experts, a Q&A panel with current university students, and a series of interactive activities to learn how scientists/companies are reducing their environmental footprints. Some of the topics being covered include: microplastics, greenhouse gases, and water governance. Below you will find a set of resources providing background information and food for thought on these topics, and on pollution in general. 

Plastic drinking straws

We Use a Lot of Plastic

What are microplastics? How are plastics polluting aquatic ecosystems?

Hamilton, Ontario industrial area with Toronto skyline in the background

What are Greenhouse Gases?

This backgrounder explains what greenhouse gases are and how they contribute to climate change.

Boat on a lake at sunset

Humans and Freshwater Ecosystems

Learn about how people impact the ecosystems of lakes and rivers.

Our climate is changing

Introduction to Climate Change

Learn more about the causes and impacts of global climate change.

Header illustration of water and filters

Design a Filter for Microplastics

Design a prototype of a product for filtering out microfibres from your laundry.

Read more about Design a Filter for Microplastics
Remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV)

Human Exploration of the Deep Ocean

Learn about how humans explore the deep ocean and what they have learned.

Aquifer with tap

Groundwater Sustainability: Protecting our Hidden Treasure

Learn about groundwater and why we should protect it.

Water treatment plant near Kitchener, Ontario

Water Treatment

Learn about how water is treated at municipal water treatment plants.

What are the best materials to use for cleaning water?

What are the best materials to use for cleaning water?

Water is a precious natural resource. What happens if it gets polluted? Learn how water can be cleaned with this hands-on activity?

Now that you've gotten some background information on pollution, explore the careers of people whose job is to deal with the problem!