Pollution Catcher

Make a pollution catcher which will help you see the dirt in the air with your own eyes!


With a few simple materials that you probably have at home, you can make a pollution catcher which will help you see the dirt in the air with your own eyes! You can even make a few and put them in different locations. This will mean you can see whether the air is cleaner in the park or by a big road.

This is a simple activity which should be easy and fun for people of all ages, but it’s always better to do things in teams. Why not ask a family member or friend to join you for the experiment?

What is pollution?

Pollution is the introduction of harmful materials into the environment. These harmful materials are called pollutants. Pollutants can be natural, such as volcanic ash. They can also be created by human activity, such as rubbish or runoff produced by factories. Pollutants damage the quality of air, water, and land.

Air Pollution

Vehicles such as cars, planes and lorries contribute to air pollution. They use fossil fuels, like gas, to power their engines. Factories which are used to produce many of the products we enjoy every day also give off toxic substances that pollute our air.  Some air pollution –  like the production of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide – is invisible,  but other air pollution you can see.

Your pollution catcher will catch visible pollution particles.

What to do

Step 1: Gather your resources

Step 2: With the Scissors, cut out a square or rectangular piece of cardboard. This should be roughly the size of your open hand.

Step 3: With the point of your scissors, or with a pencil, make a hole in the centre top of your piece of cardboard (be careful you don’t hurt yourself!). Then, cut a piece of string as long as the distance between your elbow and fingertips. Next, pass it through the hole and tie the two ends of the string together with a knot.

Step 4: Take your piece of white paper and cut out a square or rectangle which can fit on top of your piece of cardboard. Use the tape to stick it down safely. You can do this by sticking a piece of tape across each corner.

Step 5: Using your fingers or a butter knife, spread some Vaseline on the stuck down paper. Congratulations; you have made a pollution catcher! Now you can use the string to hang it up somewhere outside.

Step 6: You can now check on your pollution catcher every few days to see if it has collected anything. After a week or so, you should be able to see pollution particles stuck to the Vaseline! If you live an area with very clean air, you might have to be a bit patient. It might take a little longer than in more polluted areas.

Take it further

If you want to try some more activities to get you thinking about the environment, why not try making a bug hotel, or upcycling some clothes for your teddy?

Climate & Ecological Emergency

This is one of our collection of activities that will help you to better understand the climate and ecological crisis and our part in it, as well as supporting you to raise your voice in calling for action to be taken against it.

Activities & Resources

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