Particle Collector to Be Installed on School Roof

An air particle collector will be installed on the school roof and collect samples for analysis.

UC Davis Advanced Light Source Professor Steve Cramer said the collector’s installation results from concern caused by a Los Altos Hills cement plant’s preparations for a new license.

“There’s some concern [about] the emissions from the cement plant that’s in the hills,” Cramer said. “The cement plant is getting ready to get a new license and people want to check on what’s coming out of the plant before they get a new license.”

Cramer said the data analysis will show the local atmosphere’s element makeup, which might include “relatively heavy elements” such as iron, copper or zinc. Some such elements are toxic in small amounts, Cramer said.

“What we’re hoping to do is put an air particle collector on the roof of the high school for a few weeks or even a month and to sample what’s in the air around Los Altos,” Cramer said. “After we collect those particles we’ll analyze them with an x-ray beam and say what kinds of elements are in the particles.”

Cramer said he plans to sample at the high school starting in February.

“I picked the high school because I knew people there and it seemed like a good place to start, Cramer said. “The idea is we’ll start with the high school and then we’ll sample closer to the cement plant to see if as you get closer to the plant there are more particles or different particles.”

Science teacher Greg Stoehr said the plan must first receive approval from Principal Wynne Satterwhite. He then hopes to involve the AP Environmental Science students in the project.

“We’ll of course talk about it in class,” Stoehr said. “Hopefully I’ll bring it into class before we put it up. We’ll all be involved as a class in getting the data.”