The Air in Downstairs Boys Bathroom NOT Dangerous


Evan Clancy

The boys’ bathroom door is held open with zip ties.

According to students in Ms. Walsh’s robotics class, the amount of particulate matter in the downstairs boy’s bathroom is much higher than anywhere else in the school.  However, this shouldn’t be anything students and teachers have to worry about.

Ms. Diane Walsh, the Math and Tech ED teacher, has a robotics class where a few of her students, Seniors Luke Charest and Davin Hettrick, and Sophomore Abigail Meliso did some experimental research on the differences in the air quality in various locations throughout the school.

Sophomore Abigail Meliso (L) and Senior Luke Charest hold a monitor used to measure the amount of particulate matter in the air.

They used a small device called ‘PM2.5 Air Quality Sensor and Breadboard Adapter Kit – PMS5003’  to test the air quality. The rooms/areas tested to date include: the upstairs boys bathroom, the downstairs boys bathroom, the upstairs girls bathroom, the downstairs girls bathroom, the pottery room, the wood shop, the middle stairs, the back stairs, the foods classroom, room 207, room 204, and the cafeteria. Multiple readings were taken in these locations at different times during the school day.  The students found that on average the downstairs boys bathroom had the most particulate matter in the air. According to Meliso, the measurement in the downstairs boys bathroom “has reached 8,000 particles total [per cubic meter]l” and Charest followed up by stating that “The normal is like around 50 [particles per cubic meter] on a good day.”  The group of students have been theorizing what the cause(s) for this substantial discrepancy between normal, and the startling results found. 

The group of students have some predictions about the cause such as dead skin cells, vaping smoke, or a problem with the ventilation system.  There’s also the possibility that this was caused between closed and open doors.  Meliso stated, “I feel like the air is just heavier in the bathrooms,  especially with the doors closed all the time” She also thinks the small size of the space contributes to higher numbers, “I think the bigger rooms are fine, it’s just the tinier ones.”  Charest shared that there is a giant fan in the pottery room, and there’s not one in the bathroom. Also, according to Meliso, “The wood shop is really clean because there are dust collectors so it takes in air all the time.” Additionally, there are no windows in the downstairs bathrooms which could decrease ventilation.  The ventilation system that is present in the boys bathroom, is placed facing the sinks rather than the stalls and is low on the wall. 

Despite the fact that the air quality is over 7 times the yearly recommended value by the EPA, Charest assures that “You shouldn’t be worried. None of this is going to do any damage to your lungs.”  Hettrick agrees: “We did the math, if you breathed only the boys bathroom air for 56 days straight, you would die.”