Ozone Bioindicator Gardens: an Educational Tool to Raise Awareness about Environmental Pollution and its Effects on Living Systems

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Kateryna Lapina, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, CO, United States and Danica Lombardozzi, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO, United States
High concentrations of ground-level ozone cause health problems in humans and a number of negative effects on plants, from reduced yield for major agricultural crops to reduced amounts of carbon stored in trees. The Denver Metro/Colorado Front Range is exceeding the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone on a regular basis in summer and the efforts to reduce the ozone levels are hampered by the presence of diverse pollution sources and complex meteorology in the region. To raise public awareness of air quality in the Colorado Front Range and to educate all age groups about ground-level ozone, two ozone bioindicator gardens were planted in Boulder in Spring 2014. The gardens contain ozone-sensitive plants that develop a characteristic ozone injury when exposed to high levels of ozone. The ozone gardens are providing the general public with a real-life demonstration of the negative effects of ozone pollution through observable plant damage. Additionally, the gardens are useful in teaching students how to collect and analyze real-world scientific data.