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Educational Programs and Outreach

UChicago Lab High School ESRP 2022

Using Particulates on Honeybees as a Measure of Local Air Pollution


  • Students:
    • Katherine Bai
    • Anathea Carrigan
    • Rohan Chadha
    • Caroline Hohner
    • Daniel O’Connor
    • Sidney Shah
    • Serena Thomas
    • William Zhu
  • Teachers:
    • Matt Martino
    • Diane Nead
  • Mentors:
    • Antonio Lanzirotti (Argonne National Laboratory, GSECARS)
    • Matthew Newville (Argonne National Laboratory, GSECARS)

Advanced Photon Source Sector 13: GSECARS

Analyzing metals collected on the wings of worker honeybees can provide insights to air pollution levels and identify pollutants. We collected bees from five areas ranging from dense urban neighborhoods to rural farmland. We then analyzed the forewings and hindwings of these bees using the Advanced Photon Source (APS) to identify metals which had accumulated on them using X ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF). The bees collected from urban areas carried significant amounts of copper, zinc, iron, chromium and nickel. The bees from rural areas still carried some of these metals, but in far fewer quantities. From our data, we can conclude that while urban and rural areas contain similar metals in the environment, the quantity of metal is much higher in urban areas.

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