Project title: Slow down and reverse atmospheric pollution
Team: Goatstown Detectives
Goatstown ETSS Dublin Ireland 20 8Student’s age: 12-13 years old, 14-15 years old
Did the lockdown (due to COVID19) cause a reduction in air pollution in the Irish City of Dublin? Can we learn from this and change our ways and habits?
Summary of the project
There is heavy traffic and long commuter times in all major cities in Ireland. Many cars are carrying one or two passengers and many students are dropped to school. Commuters have other modes of transport to chose from but have gotten used to depending on cars and buses.
We investigated the impact of the reduced movement during lock down 2020 had on air pollution levels in the hope of convincing others they can make a difference, slow down and perhaps reverse air pollution..
We identified barriers to walk and cycle to school and wrote to our local county council to garner support for making infrastructural changes to support walking and cycling safely to school.
Lastly we visited primary school class in our locality to educate them and spread awareness.
Main results and Conclusions
We initially used EO browers to get satellite data from Sentinel P5. We found this very time consuming and ran out of time.
We gathered data from https://aqicn.org/map/europe/ and found the following trends:
– NO2 is a highly reactive gas. Fuel is the main cause of this pollutant circulating in the air. High levels of Nitrogen dioxide can have damaging effects on vegetation, restricting crops from growing. It can also effect humans by harming the lungs. From our research we can see that the levels of No2 were higher in 2019 compared to 2020. We believe this is because people were less active in 2020 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. For example people were using vehicles less, because of the restrictions. And vehicles pollute the air with No2
– SO2 levels There were fewer days with high levels of SO2 from March to July 2020 than there was during the same months in 2019. SO2 is emitted by the burning of fossil fuels — coal, oil, and diesel — or other materials that contain sulfur. Sulfur dioxide is also a natural by product of volcanic activity. However, there is no volcanic activity in Ireland so the reduction we see is likely to be related to the lockdown period due to COVOD 19.
– Pm 2.5 are particles the size of a thirtieth of the diameter of your hair. They are created and released into the air via direct sources such as construction sites or are the results of a chemical reaction of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. This can have a serious effect on your lungs and your bloodstream if you breath it in. The smallest and most fine particles pose the greatest risk. Data shows that the amount of pm 2.5 had reduced in 2020 from the amount it was in 2019. While the pm 2.5 count was sporadic in ‘19 it lessened and became more balanced in 2020. This may be because of the human inactivity in 2020 due to the Nation wide lockdown. The construction of buildings was halted and automobiles were stopped being used
– Pm 10 are harmful inhalable particles that are generally 10 micrometers in diameter or smaller. These particles when inhaled can cause serious damage to your health as they can enter you lungs and your blood stream. Some particles come from direct substances such as unpaved roads and construction sites but most form in the atmosphere from reactions of other pollutants such as so2 and no2.
From the data we have collected in 2019 amounts of pm10 were high and lowered slightly near the end of the year. In 2020 however, recordings of pm10 are much lower because there was less construction going on due to covid and lockdown. By the end of the year, recordings are slightly higher, possible due to the restrictions being eased and more construction able to take place.
Our survey showed that walking & Cycling was inhibited by lack of safe routes and cycle lanes.
What’s Next? Actions to help lessen the problem
We know from our results that walking and cycling to school reduces air pollution.
We looked at our local cycle lanes and safe routes to school. We were in contact with our local county council to encourage them to make safe cycling to school an realistic option for students.
Here is the results of surveys and a excerpt from the letter we wrote to our local county council:
Students and parents have expressed concern for cyclists and pedestrians.
We identified safer ways to walk and proposed walking/cycling routes to Goatstown. We would encourage students to use back roads. However some
students will be coming from other directions so students and parents propose that the existing cycle lanes here become segregated lanes to add to cycle safety.
Students, parents and staff have asked that the protected bicycle lanes on the Goatstown Road remain in place.
Students and parents have also asked for traffic calming measures such as bollards or no through access for cars Monday to Friday from 7am – 9am and 1pm – 6pm.
Students and parents have expressed concern for junctions. Students and parents have expressed an interest for cycle lanes on both sides of Taney Road leading from Dundrum Road junction to the Goatstown Road junction.
Students and parents have expressed concern for the junction from Goatstown Road and Roebuck Road of being dangerous. Students and parents would welcome existing segregated bicycle lanes to be retained and to be extended the whole way down the Roebuck Road leading to Foster’s Avenue. There are some walls in existing housing estates and quieter roads that could be knocked through to provide for safe
pedestrian and cycling routes to the school from Roebuck in order to avoid the dangerous junction at Goatstown Road and Roebuck Road.
The survey highlightes that many want to walk or cycle to school but were concerned about the sharing of these roads with cars. We believe that we with more cycle paths, segregated cycling lanes and ways to slow down or make dangerous junctions safer that more students may indeed take a
more sustainable and active route to school.
We further raised awareness by visiting our neighbouring primary school. spreading awareness of pollution & climate change using technology.
• We used PowerPoint to educate the students on weather -v- climate change and on sources of pollution
• We then used a Kahoot to quiz them on what they have learnt from our presentation
We successfully raised awareness among the 6th class students of Ballinteer ETNS. The students engaged positively. The young students were able to spot the difference between climate and weather and identify actions they could take to make a change and reduce pollution.
We sent the resources to the teacher of the class we visited in Ballinteer ETNS. We have set them a challenge to further this initiative. We hope they will carrying on with our work in spreading awareness about climate change, pollution and the impact we can all have to another class.
Finally, we made an infographic for our newsletter of our findings and a hopeful message to our school community to make a difference and reduce air pollution by walking and cycling.
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