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Counting Air Particulate Matter
The purpose of my project was to find out whether a rural area or an urban area produces more particulate air pollution. The project also tried to identify which type of habitat within these areas (forest, field, and road) produced more particulate air pollution. To determine this I put microscope slides that were coated with a thin layer of Vaseline out in each of these areas and habitats for 24-hour periods. The particulate matter that settled on the slides stuck to the Vaseline and I was able to count the number of particles under a dissecting microscope.
The data show that the rural areas sampled received the most particulate air pollution when compared to the urban sites. This was true for all the habitats combined for the rural and urban area and also for each of the habitat types. The data also show that in the rural areas, the forest received the most particulate matter, the field the second most amount, and the road the least. The data for the urban habitats were different. As expected, the road site received the most particulate matter, but the forest received the second highest amount, and the field the least. The urban road habitat received the most particulate matter because of the automobile and truck traffic. But the reason the urban sites in general received the least amount of particulate matter is because most of the pollution produced by automotive vehicles are chemical pollutants and not large enough to be collected or counted with a dissecting microscope. The reason the rural habitats had such a high level of particulate matter is because at the times the samples were run, the corn and soybean harvest was in progress. There is considerable dust, dirt, and plant particle debris that are blown into the air by the combines in the harvest process.
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