2003 GASPer Air Congress

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Area Students Share Air Monitoring Experiences

Hotline, Summer 2003

by Rachel Filippini, GASPer Program Coordinator

This year’s GASPer Air Congress was a huge success, with many participating schools and over 50 attendees. The Air Congress was held for the second year in a row at Carnegie Mellon University’s Environmental Institute. The Tung Au Lab served as the site for five very impressive and very distinct presentations by area students from Woodland Hills High School, East Allegheny High School, Ingomar Middle School, Indiana High School and Schenley High School.

Practical Ecology students from Woodland Hills High School presented their study on the ventilation differences in old classrooms compared to newly renovated classrooms, mainly concentrating on CO2 readings. Ingomar Middle School and Indiana High School students both studied the effects of diesel bus exhaust on air quality. They paid special attention to the bus loading and unloading areas where students typically stand as they wait for their bus to arrive, and in classrooms whose windows face these areas.

East Allegheny High School student, Melissa Meighan, used the GASPer air monitor independently to study air quality at local playgrounds, comparing those playgrounds near traffic intersections to those away from intersections. Melissa’s project earned her 1st place at the Pittsburgh Junior Academy and 1st place in chemistry in her school’s science fair. She has also won 2nd place for Chemistry in the Mon-Yough Science Fair and received a $50 sponsor award from the Allegheny County Health Department for her project. GASP is happy to have assisted Melissa with her study.

The final presentation of the morning was done by brother and sister, Mara and Gray Horwitz, both Schenley High School students. The Horwitz’s research, entitled Power Line Corona and Ozone Emission in Urban Environments, has utilized the GASPer air monitor to take ozone measurements for this study. Their work has been presented in stages at the Pittsburgh Science and Engineering Fair and at the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science Regional and State Competitions.

GASP was assisted throughout the day by Anthony Sadar, a certified consulting meteorologist, and Cliff Davidson, Director of Carnegie Mellon University’s Environmental Institute. Both helped with answering students’ questions about air quality and engaging them in discussion of their investigations. After a generous lunch provided by Papa John’s Pizza on Baum Blvd. in Oakland and the Community Supermarket in Fox Chapel, attendees toured a Carnegie Mellon University air quality laboratory. There they learned from graduate students more about the research being conducted on fine particulates in the Pittsburgh region. Last but not least, students got a first hand look at a fuel-efficient vehicle, the hybrid electric/gasoline-powered Honda Insight, provided by GASP board member Marla Ferrency. Many students and teachers had heard of the technology, but had never seen the vehicle in person. Students had many questions about the fuel efficiency, power, technology and price of the car, and Marla was happy to entertain all their questions.

If you are interested in participating in the 2003-04 school year’s GASPer Air Monitor Program, or in using the air monitor this summer, please call Rachel Filippini at the GASP office at 412-441-6650 or email gasp@gasp-pgh.org.