A Field Study on Lake St. Clair to Determine the Chemical Contamination of the Lake Using Gas Chromatograph-Mass Spectrometry

Prior studies and research have shown that Lake St. Clair has a history of pollution, but specific causes of this are unknown. A possible source of pollution believed to be a problem by the researchers was runoff and this was determined using Gas Chromatograph-Mass Spectrometry (GCMS). Samples from two designated points were collected from Metropolitan Beach in Harrison Township, Michigan and from each location one water and one soil sample was collected (Einheuser). The GCMS vaporizes the samples to identify which compounds that readily evaporate (volatile) are in the samples. Using the data from the GCMS, the chemicals compositions of the soil samples were compared to their corresponding water samples to determine if runoff pollution is an issue in Lake St. Clair. This is relevant as pollution is becoming a more prominent issue in the twenty-first century and needs to be fought. This is becoming more of an issue as technology becomes more advanced and emits more emissions. By starting close to one’s own community, a base is established in fighting pollution (Greenhaw). By completing this research, the researchers have begun to let the community know about Lake St. Clair’s predicament. The results of this field study show that runoff may not be a source of pollution in Lake St. Clair, but this cannot be accurately stated as only two data points were collected due to time restrictions on the GCMS. Similar chemicals were noted in the water and soil samples, such as carbamic acid and water, but due to the uncertainty of the results given by the GCMS, this was deemed to not be notable in whether to accept or reject the hypothesis that there will be a correlation between the soil and water samples.

Research Conducted By:

Katlyn Johns
Lakeview High School

Gavin Wilks
Lake Shore High School