7 no 3, 1999
Health Effects of Airports
The following extracts are reprinted (with permission) from the website
AReCO (Alliance of Residents Concerning O'Hare) is a grass roots organization and is separate from all other organizations. AReCO began in June 1994, with just 26 members. Today AReCO represents over 1200 residents from about a 25 mile radius of O'Hare Airport, including Chicago.
We citizens are concerned with the increase in incidents of noise, health, safety, environmental problems and decreasing property values that more flights at O'Hare Airport will bring.
AReCO has launched three major projects:
The area heavily contaminated by a light to medium traffic two runway airport is approximately 12 miles around the field and 20 miles or more downwind. A single runway equipped airport with light to medium traffic contaminates an area about 6 miles around the field and 20 downwind.
Newer aircraft, even though emissions go relatively unseen, could be at least as bad at polluting as older aircraft for many reasons including production of smaller particulate matter, with different combustion processes and different formulations in fuel.
Thus, the number of people exposed to aviation pollutants and who are affected in an airport's vicinity can be immense. In Chicago, for instance, a medical doctor who teaches clinical medicine at the University of Illinois-Chicago, School of Public Medicine, estimated that as many as 5-million people's health could be affected as a result of just one airport, O'Hare.
The United Nations has released a report stating that aviation is responsible for over half of the pollution caused by transportation. In comparison to ground transportation with its millions upon millions of vehicles, there are surprisingly few aircraft (34,444 US-civil, 5,778 US-commercial). Thus, one can only imagine the massive amounts of pollution they emit. A loaded jumbo 747, for instance, uses tens of thousands of pounds of fuel on merely take-off.
Extract of "Airports: Deadly Neighbors" by Charles R. Miller
About the Author: Mr. Miller was formerly a supervisor with a major airline and is currently a director of the Alliance of Residents Concerning O'Hare (AReCO) working on airport environmental issues.
What kinds of health effects may be occurring to the population in your neighborhood can be seen from a report, dated June 20, 1997 to the Georgetown Crime Prevention and Community Council by the Seattle-King County Department of Public Health. Georgetown is an area of Seattle, and surrounds the King County International Airport (Boeing Field), King County, in turn, surrounds greater Seattle. (The Georgetown Council is a sister organization to AReCO and member of US-CAW (United States Citizens Aviation Watch). When comparing hospitalization rates for Georgetown (Zip Code 98108) to those of King and North King Counties, the following, alarming statistics resulted:
mortality rates are 48% higher for all causes of death: 57% higher for heart disease, a 36% higher cancer death rate with pneumonia and influenza among the top five leading causes average life expectancy 70.4 years (the same as in many developing nations) compared to Seattle's of 76.0 years.
What You Can Do: Contact Mr. Jack Saporito, President, US-CAW (US Citizens Aviation Watch) at Box 1702, Arlington Heights, IL 60006. Tel: +1 630 415-3370. Email: [email protected] for more information. Editor's Note: I asked Jack whether there is mercury in aviation fuel and he said he's unaware but there's 70 or so compounds that are proprietary.
Did you ever wonder what blows out of a jet airplane? Here is what you'll find in the air around an airport:
Freon 11, Freon 12, Methyl Bromide, Dichloromethane, cis-l,2-Dichloroethylene, 1,1,1-Trichloro-ethane, Carbon Tetrachloride, Benzene, Trichloroethylene, Toluene, Tetrachloroethene, Ethylbenzene, m,p-Xylene, o-Xylene, Styrene, 1,3,5-Trimethyl-benzene, 1,2,4-Trimethylbenzene, o-Dichlorobenzene, Formaldehyde, Acetaldehyde, Acrolein, Acetone, Propinaldehyde, Crotonaldehyde, Isobutylaldehyde, Methyl Ethyl Ketone, Benzaldehyde, Veraldehyde, Hexanaldehyde, Ethyl Alcohol, Acetone, Isopropyl Alcohol, Methyl Ethyl Ketone, Butane,
Isopentane, Pentane, Hexane, Butyl Alcohol, Methyl Isobutyl Ketone, n,n-Dimethyl Acetamide, Dimethyl Disulfide, m-Cresol, 4-Ethyl Toulene, n-Heptaldehyde, Octanal, 1,4-Dioxane, Methyl Phenyl Ketone, Vinyl Acetate, Heptane, Phenol, Octane, Anthracene, Dimethylnapthalene (isomers), Flouranthene, 1-methylnaphthalene, 2-methylnaphthalene, Naph-thalene, Phenanthrene, Pyrene , Benzo(a)pyrene, 1-nitropyrene, 1,8-dinitropyrene, 1,3-Butadiene, sulfites, nitrites, nitrogen oxide, nitrogen monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, nitrogen trioxide, nitric acid, sulfur oxides, sulfur dioxide, sulfuric acid, urea, ammonia, carbon monoxide, ozone, particulate matter (PM10, PM2.5).
Have there been studies on cancer rates near airports?
A 1993 US-EPA study of Midway Airport exhibited massive amounts of known carcinogens coming from aircraft engines in tons-per-year. It also predicted that it produced more than 400 times the allowable cancer risks to the population than that of a federal Superfund Cleanup site (Toxic Waste Dump), as a direct result of exposure to these airport toxins. The report is "EPA Estimation and Evaluation of Cancer Risks Attributed to Air Pollution in Southwest Chicago."
The National Cancer Institute states that studies show that some types of brain tumors are more frequent among workers in certain types of industries including oil refining and embalmers. Major health concerns of aircraft exhaust are petroleum and formaldehyde.
The Federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry states that volatile organic compounds in jet exhaust, precisely 1,3-butadiene and benzene pose increased health risks in the exposed populace for leukaemia and thyroid cancer.
Data from the State of Washington Department of Health regarding Seattle-Tacoma Airport shows that cancer rates are not only up near the airport, but increase the closer you get to it.
A second Washington state study of another airport, Boeing Field, by the Seattle-King County Department of Health shows that cancer rates are up 31% and the rate of respiratory disease among children is more than twice that of the county overall.
Some Facts About [Aircraft] Fuel
One aircraft take-off can burn thousands of pounds of fuel.
Air pollution levels from one 747 takeoff is similar to setting the local gas station on fire and then flying it over your head!
The pollution from just one, two-minute 747 takeoff is equal to operating 2.4 million lawnmowers simultaneously. That's four states worth!
[For local Sydney information contact: Peter Cork, Chairman: FRAAN (Fairfield Residents Against Airport Noise), PO Box 20, Horsley Park NSW 2164, Phone/Fax (02) 9620 1428 - NO AIRPORT AT BADGERYS CREEK
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Updated 12 October 2011