Fumes from small airports may be health risk

 
By Tom Nordlie • Published: March 1st, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat
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Living near an airport means living with noise pollution.

What’s less obvious is that residents may be exposed to air pollution, too.

Aircraft exhaust can give rise to extremely small particles of carbon-based chemicals.

They’re easily inhaled and can promote inflammation and lung disease.

And the hazards may actually be greater for people who live near smaller airports.

A study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology is one of the first to analyze air quality near a small airport.

In this case, it was a facility in southern California serving mostly corporate jets and private planes.

To gather data, researchers mounted a host of scientific instruments on an electric car and parked it in neighborhoods around the airport.

In two locations downwind of the runways, concentrations of extremely small airborne particles were elevated.

At about three-hundred feet from the airport, the concentrations averaged ten times that of background levels.

At twenty-two-hundred feet away, concentrations averaged two-and-a-half times higher than background.

The concentrations varied over time, but were highest after departures of jets and propeller aircraft.

Researchers concluded that small airports may pose greater health risks than large ones, because large airports typically have buffer zones surrounding them.

Consequently, land-use practices may need to be changed to require buffer zones around small facilities.

So this study may be an eye-opener for anyone hunting for a house or apartment.

A real-estate dictum says the three most important factors about a property are location, location, location.

And a dream home next to a small airport could be a nightmare for your lungs.