Air pollution in Uganda is at levels roughly 5 times the World Health Organization's standards, resulting in a multitude of health problems. Unlike in the U.S., there is no monitoring of air pollution by the government, and, currently, there is not even knowledge of the sources of this pollution. But knowing the source of pollution is an essential first step in reducing it.
In a collaboration with a scientist at Mbarara University of Science and Technology, we have collected samples over a range of time, weather conditions, and locations, ranging from a rural trading post (Rubindi) to a mega-city (Kampala).
The goal of this student project is to determine the atomic composition of samples of airborne particulates, and to use that composition to determine the sources of the pollution (factories, cars, airborne dust, waste burning, etc.). The student will learn to prepare samples and use analysis techniques including TXRF and ICP-AES. The student will also be involved in creating protocols and running tests to ensure that the analysis methods are working correctly. Finally, the student will research how atomic analysis is used to determine pollution sources, and will apply these techniques to determine sources, looking at variations between samples collected in different locations and seasons.
The student should ideally be studying either physics or chemistry, although highly motivated students from other areas may be considered.