VCE programs

Print Page

AoS 1: Managing Pollution

Full Day
Book Program
Year Levels
Unit 2 — What affects Earth’s Capacity to Sustain Life?


In this area of study, students will investigate three pollutants of national or global concern. One pollutant comes from each category of air, water and soil pollution. They will explain how these pollutants move through, and affect, the atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere, and compare treatment and management options for each.

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

Learning Intentions

In this program students will:

  • List the characteristics of Sulphur Dioxide (SO2), crude oil and heavy metals and explain how they can affect human health and the environment
  • Determine SO2 concentration in the air at Ecolinc
  • Determine levels of Copper in various soil samples using the Atomic Absorption Spectrometer (AAS)
  • Compare traditional ways to remove oil spills from water with a method using nanotechnology
  • Evaluate strategies to reduce the risk of SO2, oil and heavy metal pollution


Students will:

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. Investigate heavy metal pollution in soil including:
    • Extracting copper from different soil samples using the method provided
    • Run standards of different copper concentrations through the AAS and drawing a calibration curve
    • Use 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

VCE Links

Pollution effects on Earth’s systems

  • Chemical and physical characteristics of pollutants that influence dispersal of emissions from natural and manufactured sources.
  • The transport mechanisms, persistence, fate and toxicity of pollutants throughout Earth’s four interrelated systems.
  • The impacts of a range of pollutants on the health and survival of living things in the biosphere, including humans, and on the quality of the atmosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere with reference to risk, exposure, dosage, tolerance limits, LD50, chronic and acute toxicity, allergies, disruption of system regulation and synergistic action.

Managing pollution

  • The contributions of scientific data, new technologies, regulatory frameworks and diverse stakeholder values and priorities when managing pollution.
  • Options for control and treatment of pollution to reduce local and global impacts.