Paper No. 19
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM
USING XRD IN ENVIRONMENTAL GEOLOGY LABS TO INVESTIGATE CONSTRUCTION MINERALS AND HEALTH HAZARDS
The Environmental Geology laboratory course at Georgia Southern University provides an introduction to mineral science for approximately 750 students per year. The classic hand sample approach to mineral studies does little to stimulate interest in the geosciences for many of these students. A new lab exercise using student-based investigation of common construction materials such as flooring and roofing is designed to stimulate interest in mineral science, cultivate an appreciation for the methods of science, and promote development of critical thinking skills. A traditional hand sample mineral exercise provides some necessary background in metallic and industrial mineral and rock resources. This is followed with a homework assignment designed to brief students on asbestos minerals, the history of asbestos use, common Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM), asbestos related disease, and the regulatory history of ACM. Review questions are discussed in the following laboratory period and students are organized into research teams. Each student research team is provided with a sample of construction materials. The research teams use a Rigaku MiniFlex XRD unit (funded by NSF DUE 0311730) to determine the minerals incorporated in the construction material. Research teams that identify asbestos minerals in the sample are required to evaluate the potential health risk for the specific mineral(s) and application and to make a recommendation for either the removal or management of the ACM. If the team selects "management", a plan outline is required. Teams that do not have ACM are required to explain the function or benefits of the particular mineral(s) used in the construction material. Trial runs of the exercise with pre- and post-exercise quizzes on a control group and test group along with a post-exercise survey of the test group were encouraging with respect to the quiz performance and the class enthusiasm for the investigative approach using a modern X-Ray Diffraction system.