Title

A closer look at air: measuring visible particulate matter at Harrah Elementary and considering sources of variation in the air quality

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Location

SURC Ballroom A

Start Date

17-5-2012

End Date

17-5-2012

Abstract

The air we breathe in our homes, school, and outdoors is much more than a solution of oxygen, carbon-dioxide, and nitrogen gases. In fact, visible solid particles make up an important component of nearly all air. Visible particulate matter can be picked up by the wind, kicked up by animals, stirred up by people, or blown out of vents from buildings and factories. This study measured the quantity of visible particles at four sample locations across Harrah Elementary School campus over 3 weeks. Fifth grade students recorded simultaneous changes in the environment, such as rain, heavy winds, and room cleaning, to better understand how and potentially why the air quality changes across campus. Three stations were outside and one station was inside: 1) Harrah Road/Front school yard, 2) main parking lot, 3) basketball court/playground tree, and 3) Mr. Estock’s 5th grade classroom. Three visible particulate detectors were hung at each station and replaced every 3-4 days. The detector plates were then photographed through a microscope at 100x magnification. Using the photomicrographs, students counted the number of visible particles, greater than ~100microns, in a 1 mm x 1 mm square, and took the average of the three detector cards for each 3-4 day sample period. Comparing these data with the observed changes in the environment during the sampling period, we found that the parking lot had the greatest number of visible particles, dust storms greatly increased the number of visible particles, and the classroom had the fewest visible particles.

Poster Number

34

Faculty Mentor(s)

Lisa Ely

Additional Mentoring Department

Geological Sciences

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May 17th, 11:15 AM May 17th, 1:44 PM

A closer look at air: measuring visible particulate matter at Harrah Elementary and considering sources of variation in the air quality

SURC Ballroom A

The air we breathe in our homes, school, and outdoors is much more than a solution of oxygen, carbon-dioxide, and nitrogen gases. In fact, visible solid particles make up an important component of nearly all air. Visible particulate matter can be picked up by the wind, kicked up by animals, stirred up by people, or blown out of vents from buildings and factories. This study measured the quantity of visible particles at four sample locations across Harrah Elementary School campus over 3 weeks. Fifth grade students recorded simultaneous changes in the environment, such as rain, heavy winds, and room cleaning, to better understand how and potentially why the air quality changes across campus. Three stations were outside and one station was inside: 1) Harrah Road/Front school yard, 2) main parking lot, 3) basketball court/playground tree, and 3) Mr. Estock’s 5th grade classroom. Three visible particulate detectors were hung at each station and replaced every 3-4 days. The detector plates were then photographed through a microscope at 100x magnification. Using the photomicrographs, students counted the number of visible particles, greater than ~100microns, in a 1 mm x 1 mm square, and took the average of the three detector cards for each 3-4 day sample period. Comparing these data with the observed changes in the environment during the sampling period, we found that the parking lot had the greatest number of visible particles, dust storms greatly increased the number of visible particles, and the classroom had the fewest visible particles.