Citizen Science highlights the need for strengthening dialogue between researchers and schools and thus make possible the successful introduction of citizen science in schools.
Scientists from Institute of Geophysics, Polish Academy of Sciences propose Studies of pollution particles in dust probes taken from the road surfaces in the city, as an idea of pilot of Citizen Science actions to be run at Schools from September, 2019.
Moving vehicles are a source of air pollution in cities caused by burning fuel. These pollutions are included in the so-called exhaust emissions mainly containing organic compounds, carbon blacks, etc. Moving vehicles are also the source of so-called non-exhaust emission, which are solid particles resulting from abrasion of brake blocks and discs, road surface, car tires and engine parts. The particles produced in both types of emissions usually fall to the street surface creating road dust. The more cars moves on the street, the more dust particles are created and can enter the air. Air polluted by moving cars can cause negative health effects (diseases) for pedestrians, cyclists and runners moving along heavy traffic roads. The aim of this project will be to examine how many pollution particles are generated by cars passing moving on the streets.
The goal of this pilot initiative is to measure how many pollution is in the dust sample taken from the street surface. A device called magnetic kappabridge will be used for measurements. This device also measures magnetic susceptibility – a physical quantity that is proportional to the amount of particles emitted by moving vehicles in non-exhaust emissions. The high value of magnetic susceptibility will point to very polluted air along the road and the fact that moving/walking along this road can be dangerous for people. However, when magnetic susceptibility will be of low value, it could be concluded that moving/walking along such a path, people are less exposed to pollution and disease.
It is planned that pupils will choose several places to collect road dust. These may be streets with heavy traffic, or those along which they usually go to school. The dust will be swept with a brush and scoop from the surface of approximately 1m2 of the road directly at the curb of the road or if the road is very busy from the pavement/sidewalk. One sample should contain about 0.2-0.3 kg of dust. The dust will be placed in a plastic bag. To each sampling site of dust students will fill in a questionnaire with date of dust collection, street name and geographical location. Pupils will attach photos (in electronic form) from the place of dust collection, which will document traffic on the street and the immediate surroundings. Geographical location (GPS data) and photos will be taken by the students with the use of smartphones. Scientists suggest that from a given place the dust should be collected three times in an interval of about 2 weeks. It is important not to collect the dust directly after heavy rainfall.
Participants will prepare samples for measurement in the laboratory. This will involve sieving the dust through a sieve, placing dust in a plastic box and determining its mass. Then, for each sample, pupils will determine magnetic susceptibility of samples. On the basis of the susceptibility values received for different samples, they will be able to conclude how much polluted air is on the road from which the dust was taken. In the end, participants will get information on the quality of environment they live in.
Stay tuned for more information!
Photo of dust particle from scanning electron microscope.
Photo taken as a result of the grant No 2013/09/B/ST10/02780 by National Science Centre in Poland.