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Aviation Pollution

There is clear evidence that living near an airport can seriously damage your health. Recent research has shown that exhaust emissions from commercial aircraft produce particles and gases that cause an increase in general inflammation but especially in the lungs. Planes emit this pollution when taking off and landing, and when taxiing or even when stationary on the airport apron. Some of the most vulnerable members of society are most badly affected by air pollution caused by aviation.Young children and older adults with conditions such as asthma and chronic pulmonary disease are especially at risk.

Studies show that, for these groups, hospital admission rates get higher with increased proximity to commercial airports. Even healthy non-smoking young adults show a reduction in lung function after just a single five hour exposure near a commercial airport perimeter. 

Data shows a five-fold increase in ultrafine particle concentration 3km downwind from a commercial airport, and a two-fold increase even at a distance of 18km downwind compared with control sites. Particularly worrying for schools near or downwind from airports is the evidence that ultrafine particle concentrations have been measured as being similar inside residential buildings as outside. There are 47,000 school children at 110 schools less than 3,000 ft below Farnborough's flightpaths. It is obviously vital that airport and aircraft pollution is properly measured. Farnborough Airport makes a big deal of its ground operations reducing its emissions, but that only accounts for 1.4% of all emissions and the rest of it, from aircraft, is unabated. The airport has repeatedly refused to measure particulate emissions and one can only assume why that might be.

Aviation London pollution

This article from The Guardian (27th February 2024) concludes the planes taking off and landing at London’s six airports (which includes Farnborough) expose the city’s inhabitants to the equivalent of 3.23m cars’ worth of harmful nitrogen oxides and particulate matter emissions every year. 

Critics of air travel have said there are insufficient safeguards around the kinds of pollution caused by airports. “Aircraft noise levels are continuously exceeded, and we completely lack EU standards on ultrafine particles, which are a major health hazard,” said Magdalena Heuwieser, of the activist network Stay Grounded.

Material for this article was kindly provided by GALBA (Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport). There is more information here and a more extensive review here

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