Student Authors:

Arden Dowd, '23
Alexis Jones, '24
Jess Schaefer, '24

Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Fall 2023

Department 1

Environmental Studies


With the rise of cars and other motorized vehicles has come the rise of air pollution, which tends to have disproportionate environmental and health impacts on low-income and communities of color. This study analyzes car presence and air quality on a transect within Gettysburg, PA to determine if there is a relationship between air pollution and vehicle presence, and if there is a difference in air quality between higher price bracket housing compared to campus, commercial, and lower price bracket housing. To test our research questions, we identified nine sampling locations along a transect where we measured air pollutants, including particulate matter (2.5 um and 10 um), VOCs, and NO2, with Flow by Plume Labs and Atmotube Pro air quality monitors. Our hypotheses that car activity will increase the amount of air pollution in Gettysburg and that there will be a greater environmental justice disparity within lower housing price brackets were not supported. The air quality along the transect was not greatly affected by vehicle presence and was consistent with regional conditions, and while measurements of different pollutants changed with location, there was not one clear trend between these two variables. However, there were consistently higher levels of vehicle traffic in the commercial and low-income areas than in the high-income and campus areas. The main limitations of our study were the lack of functionality and accuracy of our air monitors, which reduced the sample size of our data. These results provide room for further study of racial and child health disparities caused by cars and air pollution, as well as the impact of higher traffic levels on the risk of car and pedestrian accidents.


Written for ES 400: The Automobile and its Effects on Environment and Culture.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 License.