YPIE Scientist: Edalia Guartan

Updated: May 26

Research: Is COVID-19 increasing pollution in natural areas?

Awards: 3rd place, Behavioral Science - Westlake 2019; American Meteorological Society Award & Stockholm Junior Water Prize - WESEF 2021; Regeneron Science Talent Search 2021

Mentor: Dr. Michael Rubbo Abstract:

Coronavirus has impacted the lives of many during the year 2020. With the increased use in disposable personal protective equipment, such as masks and gloves, plastic pollution is more relevant now than ever. The intention of reducing contact between others, in order to ensure their health, outweighed other unknown effects at the time. There has also been a reduction in recycling and increase in waste in countries like China, USA, Italy and Spain (Zambrano-Monserrate et al., 2020). This is due to concern over the risk of spreading the virus in recycling centers. The objective of this study was to determine how the coronavirus has impacted the amount of pollution in natural areas, such as parks with streams, with varying rates of the pandemic. The hypothesis was that areas with high rates of coronavirus would have more pollution than areas with low rates of coronavirus. After visiting nine sites that were located in municipalities with low, medium and high rates of coronavirus and collecting data on the pollution in the natural areas using the Rapid Trash Assessment (Moore, 2005), no significant difference was noted in the amount of pollution with the municipalities with varying rates of coronavirus. The total Rapid Trash Assessment score showed that the hypothesis was not statistically valid. These results may be attributed to the public properly disposing of masks and gloves, the socio-economic backgrounds of the towns and a limited time frame in gathering data.

Presentation Slides

About this Scientist:

Edalia, also known as Edy, will be studying at Lehman College in the Macaulay Honors College. She plans on studying speech and language pathology. In this class, she learned that procrastinating is probably one of the worst things to do, and that scientific writing and reading is an essential thing to do to better the future day by day. Science is something ever changing and she hopes to help contribute to it by any means possible!

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