Air Quality at PHS
Throughout the last week of February, Petaluma High School’s AP Environmental Science (APES) class conducted an experiment on air quality in various classrooms and other locations around campus. Each of Kris Camacho’s three APES classes split up into groups and surveyed classrooms across campus for particulate matter, or harmful particles, in the air. The students used a cellular app and a device called a personal air monitor (PAM) to conduct testing.
For the most part, the results were positive and showed little evidence of harmful particles in the classrooms. However, “One of the groups discovered high levels of carbon monoxide in the [boys] locker room,” said junior Kaden Hunt. “It was shocking but we’re just glad we found out and were able to report it.” The particulate levels measured in at about seven to eight parts per million (ppm). “At nine [ppm] is when people would start to feel health effects,” said Camacho.
If levels of carbon monoxide were to rise and spread through ventilation to other classrooms and areas around the school, health problems could arise. Carbon monoxide is an odorless gas and can be hard to detect; it is good that the APES class found this early. “We contacted the district and hope to have the problem resolved very soon,” said Hunt.
Another concerning aspect of the experiment’s results was the high level of carbon dioxide in various classrooms around campus. “Any reading above nine in regard to carbon dioxide could have an effect on how you feel,” said Camacho. The students found levels up to four times the suggested maximum.
“High levels of carbon dioxide won’t cause you to feel ill, maybe just unfocused or tired,” said Camacho. “We do want to make sure that people don’t panic because it’s not that serious. We have already contacted the district and taken steps to fix this problem.”
Needless to say, the AP Environmental Science class at Petaluma High has done a great service to the Petaluma High School’s learning environments.