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Breaking the Mold
Lesson Plans Asthma Survey | Indoor Air: What's the Matter?
Dust Busters to the Rescue | Unfolding the Mystery of Mold
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Dust Busters to the Rescue

Lesson Goals:

Students will understand the importance of cleaning up and preventing indoor air pollution. Students will also understand that proactive behavior can minimize the harmful health effects of indoor air pollution and improve overall indoor air quality.

Curriculum Connections:


  • Establishes relationships based on evidence and logical argument (e.g., provides causes for effects)
  • Knows that observations can be affected by bias (e.g., strong beliefs about what should happen in particular circumstances can prevent the detection of other results)


  • Knows essential concepts about the prevention and control of disease
  • Understands how lifestyle, pathogens, family history, and other risk factors are related to the cause or prevention of disease and other health problems
  • Understands personal rights and responsibilities involved in the treatment of disease (e.g., proper use of medication; the influence of family and culture on the treatment of disease)
  • Knows the availability and effective use of health services, products, and information
  • Knows how to locate and use community health information, products, and services that provide valid health information
  • Knows environmental and external factors that affect individual and community health
  • Understands how the prevention and control of health problems are influenced by research and medical advances
  • Knows how individuals can improve or maintain community health (e.g., becoming active in environmental issues that affect health, assisting in the development of public health policies and laws, exercising voting privileges)

Language Arts

  • Gathers and uses information for research purposes

Video Tie-In:

What Can You Do? documentary video clip

Glossary Terms:

dust mites, formaldehyde, lead, mold, pollution, radon, radon detector

Time Required:

One 40-minute class period

Activity Overview:

The clean up and prevention of indoor air pollutants can go a long way toward improving health and well being. This activity helps students develop a proactive approach to managing indoor air pollution. They will read a case studies, research the problem, and outline an action plan that will clean up the problem, restore a healthy indoor environment, and prevent or lesson the problem in the future. In the end, they will feel empowered to take steps that can have a positive effect on the air they breathe in their own homes and classrooms.


  1. Reproduce and distribute the Dust Busters Case Study to your class.

  2. Give students a chance to read the case study and then explain that they are going to be an important part of the Dust Busters team of Air Pollution Control Specialists who will help solve the Torres family's problems.

  3. Divide the class into four groups and assign each group one of the following pollutants: radon gas, dust mites, mold, formaldehyde.

  4. Challenge each team to find out as much as they can about their suspected pollutant. Have them look for clues of the pollutant in the case study, decide if and why they think the pollutant is making the Torres family sick, and then outline a clean-up and prevention action plan for how to solve the problem. You might want to bookmark the Web links below in advance to jumpstart students' research.

  5. Have each of the four teams present their research findings and Dust Buster action plans to the class. Discuss as a group how any or all of the pollutants identified by Pollution Busters could have contributed to the Torres family's problems. What other possible pollution sources did students identify during their research (new carpet allergies, animal dander, lead, asbestos, etc.)?

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