Air Quality Study – Bolivia

During the spring 2016 semester, I took CEE 292: International Applications of Environmental Engineering Field Methods, taught by Dr. Mike Bergin. On a team of three students, I helped to design and execute an experiment that evaluated the effects of air quality on human health in La Paz, Bolivia and surrounding areas. We monitored black carbon, particulate matter, and carbon monoxide in different environments around the city. We also tracked the exhaled nitric oxide (eNO) of multiple human subjects, which is a biomarker for airway inflammation. Through data analysis in Excel and MATLAB following fieldwork, correlations in pollutant exposure were identified and the effects of each pollutant on lung health were measured. A report was produced from this study detailing the types of environments with highest pollutant exposure.

Recording carbon monoxide levels in La Paz city center with a Lascar EL-USB-CO data logger.
Relation to my focus on clean water access

This experience related to my GC focus by increasing my knowledge of the health challenges faced by lower-resource communities. In particular, this experience acquainted me with the environmental health disparities impacting people in urban settings, which was valuable exposure since many of my other GCS activities have been focused in rural areas.

Our team of three undergraduate students and a PhD candidate.

Supervisor: Dr. Mike Bergin

Start date: January 2016

End date: May 2016

Hours to complete: 100