Studying Variation in Lead Contamination and Air Pollution across NYC Parks using Low-Cost Monitoring Tools

This summer, I led a team of NYC high school students in measuring environmental contaminants including air pollution and lead contamination. Below is my poster-presentation from the 2021 Undergraduate Research Symposium at Columbia University describing this work.

Long-term exposure to environmental contaminants such as lead in soil and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in air are linked to a variety of adverse health effects. Since air pollution historically contained lead in combustion sources, studying contaminated soil is necessary to understand the risks of previous air pollution. Both air and soil pollution vary significantly in space and time, and not everyone is at the same risk of exposure. Parks offer a variety of ecosystem services, one of which is assumed to be protection from pollution in the rest of the city. However, this shielding effect has not been quantitatively explored. This summer, we asked, in which areas are lead contamination and/or air pollution highest? Do parks in New York City have a shielding effect against contamination? Within a park, how does contamination vary?