A major study of jet fuel pollution looked at various forms of aviation air pollution around
230 airports, 62 of which are general aviation airports like East Hampton’s airport (1).
They measured emissions of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic
compounds, sulfur oxides, and fine particulate matter. Their measurements were confined
to areas outside the immediate area of exhaust and so represent the effects on areas
The adverse health impacts of aircraft emissions were estimated to derive almost entirely
from fine ambient particulate matter (PM). Nationally, about 160 yearly incidences of PM-
related premature mortality were estimated due to ambient particulate matter exposure
attributable to the aircraft emissions estimated for this study (from 325 airports). One-third
of these 160 premature mortalities were estimated to occur within the greater Southern
California region, while another fourteen counties (located within NY, NJ, IL, Northern CA,
MI, TN, TX and OH) accounted for approximately 21 percent of total premature mortality.
East Hampton Airport was not included in this study but is operationally comparable to the
smaller airports included. East Hampton has about one half the traffic of its nearest
aviation neighbor, Francis S. Gabreski airport in Westhampton. In total, 47 counties within
the United States had a measurable PM-related premature mortality risk of greater than one
premature mortality incidence associated with aircraft emissions. Other PM-related health
impacts, such as chronic bronchitis, non-fatal heart attacks, respiratory and cardiovascular
illnesses were also associated with aircraft emissions. No significant health impacts were
estimated to be due to the changes in ambient ozone concentrations attributable to aircraft
emissions. Although the health impacts estimated for aircraft landing-take off emissions are
important, it is very likely they constitute less than 0.6% of the total adverse health impacts
due to poor local and regional air quality from anthropogenic emissions sources in the
A more recent study looked carefully at the levels of ultrafine particles in areas beyond
the immediate flight path (2). In particular they measured black carbon and particle-bound
polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Inhalation of these particles has been strongly linked to
allergic and asthmatic reactions and disruption of the blood brain barrier. The study was
conducted at the Santa Monica, CA airport, recorded pollution along the take-off route, and
reported peak increments that were above background levels by factors from 90 to 440.
Elevated levels were sustained in the atmosphere for an extended period after the peak.
The authors conclude that these results have potential health implications for those living
near general aviation airports.
On June 1, the EPA published new standards for Nitrous Oxide emissions from turbofan
and turbojet engines, the former being the more popular (http://www.epa.
gov/nonroad/aviation/420f05015.htm). Although the covered aircraft are larger than those
is operation at East Hampton Airport, the new requirements lift the emissions standards
twelve percent over the 2006 requirement. Current scientific evidence links short-term NO2
exposures, ranging from 30 minutes to 24 hours, with adverse respiratory effects including
airway inflammation in healthy people and increased respiratory symptoms in people with
asthma Also, studies show a connection between breathing elevated short-term NO2
concentrations and increased visits to emergency departments and hospital admissions for
respiratory issues, especially asthma (3).
Conclusion: In all, the combustion of Jet fuel yields gaseous and particulate exhaust that
can, with sufficient exposure, be hazardous to the health of those living near an airport.
Although these studies have not included East Hampton Airport, the operational volume
and population density surrounding our airport are within the range of those studies. It
follows that the cautions raised in these studies about the negative health effects of aviation
air pollution should be of concern to those living near air airport and its flight paths.
(1) Hsu, S., Fruin,S., Kozawa, K., Mara, S., Winer, A. M., and Paulson, S.A. (2009)
Aircraft Emission Impacts in a Neighborhood Adjacent to a General Aviation Airport in
Southern California. Environ. Sci. Technology, 43(21), 8039-8045.
(2) Ratliff, G., Sequiera, C., Waitz, I., Ohsfeldt, M., Thrasher, T., Graham, M., and
Thompson, T. (2009) Aircraft Impacts on Local and Regional Air quality in the United
States. Partnership for Air Transportation Noise and Emissions Reduction Project,
Project 15 Final Report.
(3) Calderon-Garciduenas, L. (2008), Long –term Air Pollution Exposure is Associated
with Neuroimflamation, An Altered Innate Immune Response, Disruption of the Blood-Brain
Barrier, Ultrafine Particulate Deposition, , and Accumulation of Amyloid B-42 and
A-Synuclein in Children and Young Adults” Toxicologic Pathology, 36(2)
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