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Tired of air pollution, children from Noida invent an air filter of their own

Mayuri J Ravi
30th Nov 2017
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School students design a mechanism to show the increase in air pollution in Delhi, that is contributing to lung disorders.  

Students testing the spirometer model used to measure lung capacity.

With an aim to address the severity of air pollution in Delhi-NCR, students of Shiv Nadar School (SNS), Noida, recently conducted air quality and lung capacity tests.

Ridhima, a grade nine student, says, “We would constantly hear about rising air pollution around us and the toll it is taking on our health, but we were not able to quantify the magnanimity of the problem. So, to better understand the problem under the able guidance of our teachers we developed the lung capacity and air quality monitor tests using products that are easily available.”

Air pollution is quite a serious issue in India, with the worst affected city being Delhi. The toxicity in the air is proving harmful to the residents as the smog fills every part of the city. According to the Central Pollution Control Board's (CPCB) National Air Quality Index, as of November 21, the score was 250, which falls under the very unhealthy zone.

While the grade six students conducted an innovative lung capacity test to monitor the deteriorating air quality in Delhi-NCR, the grade nine students conducted an air quality test by developing an air collection mechanism to study samples from different heights of the atmosphere.

Addressing the cause and effects of air pollution

The air collection mechanism, designed by the Grade nine students made use of a syringe and arduino circuit. This was used to collect air samples at different heights (5 mt,10 mt, 15 mt, 20 mt, 30 mt, 40 mt) with the help of hydrogen balloons. The air was collected inside the syringe connected with a circuit timed at various intervals. The collected air samples were then transferred in different syringes and sent to CPCB for analysis.

Student and teachers conducting air quality test using hydrogen balloons.

Based on the results, every pollutant - Ozone (O3), Particulate matter (2.5 and 10), Carbon Monoxide (CO), Sulphur Dioxide (SO2), Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) and the Air Quality Index (AQI) increased with height.

Shashi Banerjee, Principal, Shiv Nadar School, Noida, says that air pollution has become a threat to the society’s health and the situation in Delhi-NCR is getting worse by the day.

The grade six students went on to create a model to conduct a lung capacity test. It was designed using a water can (filled with 5 litre water), a rubber tube and a large container that could hold the water and can.

This model measures a person’s vital capacity (the maximum amount of air a person can expel from the lungs after maximum inhalation). The students collected data of over 100 people (before Diwali) and 56 people (after Diwali) of different age groups and gender. People were asked to blow inside the rubber tube, which allowed water to displace out of the can.

The students measured the individual lung capacity by comparing it with the amount of water displaced from the can. They came to the conclusion that lung capacity was found to be very low in comparison to the ideal capacity level.

While age, respiratory disorders and a sedentary lifestyle were some of the reasons for the decrease, smoking and exposure to air pollution on a daily basis, were the key reasons. They found an overall decrease in the lung capacity of people post-Diwali, indicating a severe effect on lungs due to increasing level of smog and pollution.

Both the models are designed in a way that it is easy to use.

“We just had to get the technique right, and we are happy that our results comply with the overall verdict given by the different governmental agencies on deteriorating air quality,” states Ridhima.

An alternate solution

The SNS students also created a cost-effective prototype of air filter model and air humidifiers.

Talking about the air humidifier prototype, Meenambika Menon, Lead, Curriculum - Science and Math, says,

“The different kinds of masks available in the market triggered the thought that these can be used to make low cost air purifiers. The students felt that the air purifiers available in the market are very expensive and wanted to apply their knowledge, on the process of purification, to bring this cost down.”

The air filter model created by them suggests the use of environment-friendly, easily available materials, which is equipped to remove solid pollutants like emission from products like paints, burning fuel, construction rubble as well as allergens like pollens and moulds. Though they are yet to check the efficacy of these models.

The students intend to carry out this experiment at different places and at greater heights, soon.

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