Good and Not-So-Good Examples: Physical Sciences

Color-Coding:
Introduction
Research Problem
Body
Results
Conclusions

Exposure to hydrocarbons while commuting by bicycle in Chicago
(fictional paper abstract: GOOD abstract)

*Idea based upon O’Donoghue, et al. (2007) “Exposure to hydrocarbon concentrations while commuting or exercising in Dublin” Environment International, v. 33, no. 1, p. 1-8.*

Health researchers have recognized through various studies that automobile emissions present hazards for pedestrians in close proximity to exhaust outlets on vehicles. However, no analogous analysis has been done on another potential vulnerable population, that of bicycle riders. In order to determine the impact of emissions, this study tested hydrocarbon exposures by catching air samples in small vacuum canisters worn by commuting bicyclists. Heart and respiration rates for individual cyclists were recorded, as well as journey length. Contemporaneous air samples were also taken in a variety of locations throughout the Chicago metro area. The samples were then analyzed for the presence of several automobile produced hydrocarbons, including benzene and acetylene. The cyclists inhaled higher levels of hydrocarbons than the average amount present at the sample air collection locations in the Chicago metro areas, ranging from 25 ppm – 250 ppm higher, depending upon the hydrocarbon tested. The results of this study indicate that bicyclists studied were heavily impacted by automobile emissions. This should be seriously considered in future placement of bicycle paths in urban areas

Exposure to hydrocarbons while commuting by bicycle in Chicago
(fictional paper abstract: NOT-SO-GOOD abstract)

*Idea based upon O’Donoghue, et al. (2007) “Exposure to hydrocarbon concentrations while commuting or exercising in Dublin” Environment International, v. 33, no. 1, p. 1-8.*

It is a well known fact that automobiles produce hydrocarbons that contribute to smog and global warming. However, not many studies have been performed on the effect that automobile produced hydrocarbons have on people in close position to exhaust outlets.  To find out, we created an experiment.  What we did is attached vacuum canisters and heart and respiration monitors to bicycle commuters and recorded heart rate, respiration, and journey length, and analyzed the canister contents so could calculate the amount of hydrocarbons the cyclists inhaled. We also collected samples on the same days from parks and open spaces around the Chicago metro area. We compared the levels of hydrocarbons from the open spaces to those we captured on the bicycle commuters. We concluded that bicyclists breathe in many more pollutants than people who are not commuting in the streets on bicycles.

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