09 September 2021

Monitoring Air Quality

Article by Ms Jessica Miller

Monitoring Air Quality

Just before lockdown #7 arrived our Year 11 VCE Environmental Science students had the opportunity to complete field studies monitoring air quality and pollution around the College.

In high pollution areas particulate matter is absorbed onto the surface of leaves causing disruption to photosynthesis and coating the leaves with minute coarse particles from exhaust fumes and other pollutants in the air.

Additionally, particulate matter is harmful to the lungs of people and animals and is monitored by the Victorian EPA in both the Melbourne and Geelong airshed. In the absence of expensive and high tech machinery to monitor air pollution students used leaves coated in petroleum jelly at sites around the school to monitor the presence of particulate matter on the leaf surface.

A weight change in the leaves after a period exposed to pollution could indicate the presence of particulate matter.

Sites were chosen near the bushland at the top of the school, at the bus bay and at the car parking pickup zone. The experiment was affected by weather conditions – heavy rain and wind – but students were able to determine site selections, discuss impacts on the experiment and design considerations for future experiments.

Jessica Miller  Science Teacher