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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Washington Contributes to Study Showing Extent of Airport Pollution

University of Washington School of Public Health researchers contributed to a recent study that suggests air pollution from jets could be a much greater health risk than was formerly thought. The study, published in Environmental Science and Technology, found that ultrafine particles from the exhaust of jets using Los Angeles International Airport were detected at twice the normal levels as far as 10 miles downwind from the airport. Pollution levels were up to five times normal levels at five-to-six miles downwind.

The study was led by the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine and conducted with the University of Washington department of environmental and occupational health sciences, within the School of Public Health, and the UW’s department of civil and environmental engineering.

Researchers used vehicles equipped with special monitoring devices to detect the elevated levels of airport emissions. They found the pollution spread five times farther away from the airport than previously assumed.

The authors say the pollution from airport emissions rivals that of nearby highways and is a serious public health concern because ultrafine particles can enter the body’s bloodstream and are more toxic than larger particles. Study results “indicate that the air quality impact areas of major airports may have been seriously underestimated,” the authors write.

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