For a decade,  scientific studies implicated air pollution from jet aircraft in increased health and mortality risks near airfields.

Since the 2010 World Health Organization warning, aviation interests have deflected attention away from these studies in several ways. The Federal government now exempts military and commercial avaition operations from State environmental reviews and penalties; the FAA directed studies through a contract with MIT, failing to establish that a >65 annual average noise intensity (DNL modeling) is not harmful.

In 2015,  in cooperation with the EPA. FAA formally found that commercial aviation emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) were a public health threat (through global warming).  Research by the University of Southern California (USC) discovered an abundance of submicron particulates in neighborhoods near LAX. The particulates are earmarked by Thorium (Th), a weakly radioactive metal, as formed in jet engines. 

Submicron particulates are breathed in and then deposited deep in the lungs causing damage (Pneumoconiosis, or lung disease). More frequent (daily) exposure to coal dust, silica, and tobacco tars result in lung fibrosis, lung cancer and early death. It remains to be seen if sufficient fine particulates from jets are possibly being breathed in for similar consequences, but the WHO warning was that this and other risks near airports are statistically significant.


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  • Smaac Forum Panel
    commented 2020-04-08 14:00:16 -0500
    The economic stimulus will support airlines planning and financing for a “recovery” of air service.
    It is likely (based on the recovery of air service after the recession) that the shrunken hub count will be kept or worsened with little or no attention to GHG reduction. In spite of COVID-19, economists, environmentalists and public health organizations need to be planning now about how the economy recovery will help or hinder public health and safety.

    We need to study if::
    a, Air pollution or climate change adversely affect public health and thereby increase the severity of COVID-19 infections and mortality risk?
    b. Out-of-the-way city-hub-city routes add pollutants (likely ultra-fine paticulates) to the mix?
    c. Longer domestic flights spread the virus in January-February (as long international flights obviously did)?

    What were the costs vs. benefits and who were the winners and losers economically as the government and the airlines shfted to fewer hub airports in 2007 to 2011?

    There is some urgency. Next Gen and B-737 production created a loy of jobs and cash circulation but lessened public confidence in the industry.
  • Smaac Forum Panel
    commented 2020-02-21 16:44:46 -0600
    We doubt more daily MSP flight capacity is needed. Legislators and candidates should review the MSP Long-Term Comprehensive Plan and the forecast need for air service supporting demographic and economic growth before allowing an amendment of the FAA-State agreement on MSP use and capacity.
    We doubt that safety risks associated can, will or should be “mitigated.” Fewer operations per hour suffice for daily needs; the Congress should specifically revoke the FAA “efficiency” policy as dangerous, expensive and anti-competitive.
    The question isn’t what environmental harms and health and safety risks must be “mitigated” under Federal law, but what unknown harms and risks may be included without review in the LTCP. Less GHG per operation should be considered a qualitative benefit regardless of regulatory standards and mitigation thresholds. Take a stand against global warming! The public has three choices to get reasonable attention to the environmental harms and health and safety risks from MSP overflights: from the thought-to-be-in-charge entities, demand that elected officials act or petition courts to intervene.
  • Smaac Forum Panel
    commented 2018-12-04 18:42:33 -0600
    It now appears certain that the MAC will not hold a Public Hearing or cojnduct an environmentl review on plans to expand MSP as a major hub. The MAC has sequestered Long-Term Comprehensive Plan now for 6 years but annually approved capital inprovements and increased operations. That this has been a sad state of affairs allow indicating an appalling lack of oversight by elected officials.