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Posted by Oliphant Science Awards

on 15/06/2022

We're excited to have the Clean Air Society of Australia & New Zealand sponsoring the Science Writing category this year!

They have an amazing prize on offer for year 9-12 students for the best student entry from Science Writing or Scientific Inquiry that addresses Air Quality: Emissions and Monitoring.

The prize winner will be selected to speak at the National Clean Air Society of Australia and New Zealand (CASANZ) conference to be held in Adelaide in September 2022. CASANZ is an organisation which works to promote awareness and understanding of the issues affecting air quality and utilises the conference to explore work to be done to achieve cleaner air in our region and beyond. As the winner, we invite you to voice your understanding of an issue and we welcome your aspiring leadership and innovation.

Check out some inspiration for your Air Quality project below:

Have you considered if being able to see the ‘stuff’ in air would change others perception about the quality of air we breathe and the massive job we give our nose hairs and back of the throat in protecting us?

It is surprising to actually see what we could be breathing in, and it brings home the advances in technology from old feather dusters to microfiber cloths, as well as the need for masks. Looking for ideas to investigate air:

  • why not find ways to compare air quality with mask/without mask;
  • why not compare improvements in cognition at different room temps -humidity;
  • why not consider how change in cleaning techniques/technology have impacted air quality;
  • what about current knowledge in metro vs rural air quality;
  • what about how changes in building designs are influencing indoor air quality.

The photos below are some examples of what was filtered out of air, viewed through a light microscope.

IMG 6158 IMG 6161 IMG 6160
IMG 6163 IMG 6165 IMG 6166

Particulate Matter:

From 1999 to 2008, maximum levels of dust sized below 10 um (PM10) in Australian capitals and in some regional centres often exceeded the AAQ NEPM 24-hour standard. Levels up to 4 times the standard in the capitals and up to 14 times in some regional centres were recorded. The most likely explanation is their greater seasonal exposure to the effects of bushfires, dust storms, planned burning and the use of wood for domestic heating (Source 1). Peak levels of PM2.5 are highly variable, being strongly influenced by extreme events such as bushfires and dust storms (Source 1).


SA Health General advice (Source 2) for dusty days:

  • Stay indoors, and close windows and doors where possible
  • Avoid exposure to outdoor dust clouds
  • Seek medical advice if experiencing increased symptoms
  • Avoid prolonged or heavy exertion in areas of high dust pollution
  • Clean and maintained air conditioners are safe to use because of their filter systems

Air purifiers are appliances that filter out pollutants such as dust, pollen, viruses, bacteria, and odours from indoor air. With the help of air purifiers, we can improve indoor air quality and protect the health of ourselves and our families.

Source (1) State of the Environment, Australian Government

Source (2) SA Health

Source (3) SA Health Protection Against Natural Hazards

Check out this video about Air Emissions & Monitoring from EP Analysis