In this Student Research Journal Highlight, we will be talking about the research of Arnav Gupta, who participated in our HRE during the lockdown time of 2020. Like most students at that time, Arnav was curious about how the pandemic was affecting various factors of everyday life. While he didn’t want to focus on anything related to the virus, as everyone was doing that at the time, he decided to investigate how the lockdowns influenced air pollution. His thought process was that since the government was mandating people to stay at home, we should see a decrease in the CO concentration recorded as it’s a contributing atmospheric pollutant from vehicles. If everyone is staying at home, there should be fewer people driving, which would reduce air pollution levels. He also knew that the lockdown dates varied and that some states were more lenient with the policies.
Arnav did just that. He gathered data from weather stations across several states including California, Florida, Texas, Georgia, Illinois, New York, Arizona, New Jersey, North Carolina, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Alabama, Massachusetts, and Ohio. Overall, Arnav found that there was an overall trend of decreasing CO over time after each of the states implemented their lockdown measures. However, for some of the states there was a return to pre-lockdown levels as they were lifted. These states included Arizona, Ohio, Texas, Georgia, and North Carolina. The overall conclusion he found was that there was a clear relationship between CO levels and human activity. Even though there were essential businesses that needed to stay open, the decrease in human activity was the likely cause of the reduction in pollution.
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