An Ozone Garden serves as an outdoor laboratory for educators and students to analyze and collect data on air pollution’s effects on ozone-sensitive plants and to learn about its impact on human health. Native plants such as cut-leaf coneflower (rudbeckia laciniata), black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), and common milkweed (asclepias syriaca) are special bio-indicators exhibiting signs of stress when exposed to high levels of ozone pollution.
School Ozone Gardens
Clean Air Carolina has partnered with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to install Ozone Gardens at schools with high rates of low-income students. Having received an initial grant of $14,000 for this project, we were able to provide each school with garden tools such as wheelbarrows, shovels, gloves, and plants, as well as curriculum for teachers.
- Whitewater Middle School
- Cochrane Collegiate Academy
- John M. Morehead STEM Academy
- Shamrock Gardens Elementary
- Piedmont Open IB Middle School
- First Ward Creative Arts Academy
- Druid Hills Academy
To see pictures of garden activity at each school, download our 2011-2012 Ozone Garden Picture Pages.
What will the students learn?
By observing the leaves of certain plants, students are learning how air pollution affects both plant and human health. As the top sides of the bottom sets of leaves become purple, the effects of ozone pollution are beginning to show. Eventually the leaves yellow and begin to die. In conjunction with the North Carolina Standard Course of Study, students are learning about the state of our local air quality, sources of air pollution, and health impacts on both plants and humans. They are also learning how our community is working to reduce air pollution and what they can do to improve our air quality.
How does air pollution affect children?
As residents of the 19th smoggiest city in the United States, children in Charlotte are particularly vulnerable to the effects of ozone pollution. As they spend more time outside involved in vigorous activities, they have a greater demand for intake of air. With their respiratory systems still developing, they are most susceptible to permanent lung damage. Low-income children in particular suffer disproportionately from breathing polluted air near their homes or schools. Studies have shown that children who grow up breathing polluted air have reduced lung capacity by 15-20%.
Roughly ten percent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg students (over 14,000) have been diagnosed with asthma, with another ten percent having reported symptoms of asthma. Children of color are particularly affected by air quality due to higher rates of asthma. The installation of ozone gardens will directly connect the issues of local air pollution and children’s health.
Little Sugar Creek Greenway Ozone Garden
In the Fall of 2012, we received the help of 15 hard-working volunteers from Premier, Inc to help us plant a public Ozone Garden on the Little Sugar Creek Greenway near Westfield Road in Charlotte, NC (map). Volunteers assisted with building a retaining wall, filling it with soil, planting flowers and spreading mulch as well as planting three trees donated by Mecklenburg County Park & Recreation. An educational sign will be installed near the garden to demonstrate how ozone pollution affects plants and human health. Special thanks to Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation, Hands On Charlotte and Premier, Inc for partnering with Clean Air Carolina on this important community education initiative.