Arts and Sciences
Northwestern Indiana is an area recognized for its prosperous industry, but it is also known for the numerous pollution emissions that coincide with manufacturing. In order to qualify and quantify the presence of hazardous industrial byproducts in the local ecosystems, samples from the environment need to be examined periodically. Two types of samples were collected for this project. Road dust sediment (RDS), an accumulation of particulate matter on the street surface, can indicate what pollutants are present in an area due to the settling of atmospheric and anthropogenic particles on the surface of roads. The RDS samples used in this experiment were collected from areas near pollution sources. Water and sediment samples were collected from Lake George, a local body of water situated next to a portable toilet manufacturing company, to quantify the microplastic pollutants. A number of methods were used to process and analyze the samples, such as infrared spectroscopy, X-ray fluorescence and microscopy. The results conveyed an excessive amount of microplastics in the Lake George water and sediment samples as well as unnatural contaminants in our RDS. In comparison to previous years, results showed a drastic escalation of microplastic at all points of testing. Concerning RDS, contaminants that may be of concern, such as lead and arsenic, were found within our samples. We plan to continue our research of RDS in order to provide reliable, public air quality information through a comparison between RDS and air quality monitors.
Suprenant, Alyssa; Tabor, Gavin; and Starks, Jalen, "Analyzing And Addressing Pollution In Northwestern Indiana" (2022). Summer Interdisciplinary Research Symposium. 134.