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AoS 2 Why pollution management is complex

Full Day
Book Program
Year Levels
Unit 2 — How can pollution be managed?


In this area of study, students are asked to investigate three pollutants of national or global concern. One pollutant must come from each category of air, water and soil pollution. They must explain how these pollutants move through, and affect, the atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere, and compare treatment and management options for each. Students will also explore the limitations of the categorisation of pollution as air, water and soil pollution.

This program will introduce students to three pollutants, one from each category and look at measurement of each as well as management options. This should allow students to develop a question related to each pollutant to further investigate.

The three pollutants to be investigated will be Sulfur Dioxide in the air, Oil in water and heavy metals, in particular copper, in soils.

Prior Knowledge

No prior knowledge required.

Learning Intentions

In this program students will:

  • Explore the characteristics of sulphur dioxide (SO2), crude oil and heavy metals and examine how they can affect human health and the environment.
  • Undertake practical activities to determine SO2 concentration in the air at Ecolinc.
  • Investigate levels of Copper in various soil samples using the Atomic Absorption Spectrometer (AAS).
  • Investigate ways to remove oil spills from water using nanotechnology.
  • Examine strategies to reduce the risk of SO2, oil and heavy metal pollution.


Students will:

a. Investigate SO2 pollution in the air including:

  • Measure the SO2 concentration in the air (collected at Ecolinc).
  • Discuss the properties of SO2 and compare SO2 levels monitored at different sites around the state.
  • Explore the Ecolinc Weatherwall and consider how weather conditions may affect results.
  • Evaluate strategies for reducing the risk of these pollutants affecting human health and the environment.

b. Investigate oil pollution in water including:

  • Observe the effects of oil contamination in water.
  • Determine the effectiveness of using ferrofluid to remove oil contamination from water.

c. Investigate heavy metal pollution in soil including:

  • Extracting copper from different soil samples using the method provided.
  • Running samples of different copper concentrations through the AAS and drawing a calibration curve.
  • Using the AAS to measure absorption of copper in each of the soil samples and using the calibration curve to determine the concentration of copper in the samples.

Learn Online

Ecolinc Learn Online is a virtual outreach learning management system (LMS) offering interactive online courses for students and teachers. These courses can be undertaken either as a pre-visit, post-visit or stand-alone.

Students are encouraged to do the pre-learning course on Ecolinc Learn Online called Safe Labs prior to coming to Ecolinc. In this course students will cover all the necessary aspects of laboratory safety during their time at Ecolinc. When planning any work in a laboratory the risk of exposure to laboratory hazards is an important consideration. This course is part of Ecolinc’s risk minimisation for student safety.

VCE links

Students will gain key knowledge of:

  • The sources of the three selected pollutants
  • The chemical and physical properties of the three selected pollutants
  • The movement through the atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere of the three selected pollutants
  • The measurement and monitoring of the three selected pollutants
  • The effects on living things and the environment of the three selected pollutants including toxicity
  • The treatment and management options related to effects of the three selected pollutants including new technologies
  • The social, economic, legal and ethical implications relevant to pollution management options of the three selected pollutants.