By Alex Wolfson 

The end of last week brought some bad news: we’d been doing it wrong. Not the whole thing and not the whole time and we had gotten off to a really great start, our grad student adviser assured, but we’d been doing at least something wrong. If you can believe it, you breathe through your face – not your feet. We had been measuring air quality at ground level, which is likely different than air quality at 1.5 meters above the ground – the standard height for air quality measurements. How different? We would have to see. Last week ended with the hope that our corrected measurement technique would give us approximately the same consistent results we had been getting. Hopefully, it would not be a new technique, new quarter.

The first day of measurements with the new (old) and improved (finally accurate) technique was stressful to say the least: measurements that day were a full order of magnitude higher than anything we had seen before. Luckily, we followed Cully’s advice and measured both at chest height and at ground level for comparison. The outlier measurement was not caused by the change in technique, we found the same high measurements at both heights, both gyms, and both indoors and outdoors. We looked up PM 2.5 levels in Los Angeles that day and found they were abnormally high as well. Later in the week measurements returned to normal levels. Phew. Our new technique refined our measurements instead of discounting them.

We are excited with our progress so far. We have one more week of measurements at the beginning of Spring Quarter, then will take our data to our grad student adviser to help interpret it. We do not anticipate any problems with air quality in the gyms. Our new technique next quarter may be working on something different!