The effects of ozone, particulate matter, and oxygen on the air quality at Oakland Technical High School, Oakland, California

Gabriel Armas-Cardona, Norma Figueroa, Kevin Cuff, Johaan Curry, DeVanae Harris, Alex Jasiulek, Houri Kashiyarandi, Leon Ko, Maggie Li, Asha Ngilbus, Kua Ngilbus, and Jenny Phan

Oakland has a reputation for being one of the most polluted cities in Northern California. Several causes for this include the presence of the Port of Oakland, the large amounts of industry associated with the Port, and the many freeways that weave their way through the city. There are many factors that influence the quality of air that students breathe at Oakland Technical High School (Oakland Tech). In conducting our study, we sought to determine the degree to which several key factors influence the air quality. This was accomplished by measuring the concentration of fine and course particulate matter, O2, and Ozone in air. This data was then used to create an air quality index based on U.S. EPA standards. Using this index we generated contour maps that were then used to determine the relative air quality in different areas of the school. Oakland Tech is located in North Oakland, and while North Oakland is not known as a severely polluted area, any air pollution that does exist would affect the student population on a daily basis. The likely sources of pollutants in air breathed by students are a freeway located nearby and the Port of Oakland, located approximately 5 kilometers south of the school. To help identify the sources of detected pollutants, we made wind direction measurements. As very little pollution is generated within the school or the surrounding residential areas, the majority is likely to be transported by wind. Preliminary results derived from these measurements suggest that air rarely moves the in northerly direction (from of the port toward Oakland Tech.), and never with enough speed to transport industrial pollution to the school. Based on these results, we believe that the most likely source of pollution encountered at Oakland Tech is the nearby freeway. This suggests that the predominant source of pollution is car exhaust.

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