Elevated levels of pollutants have been found near Santa Monica Airport’s runways.
Philip M. Fine, Ph.D., the Atmospheric Measurements Manager of the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), told the Airport Commission on October 22 are the results of a study of the air quality around the Airport was funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that took place for three-month intervals during two different seasons from November 2005 until March 2007. The study found elevated levels of lead near runway sites and surrounding communities, but the levels found were “below federal and state standards.” He also mentioned that “ultrafine particles (measured by number concentration)” were significantly elevated near runways during aircraft operations and the “airport influence on PM2.5 (Particulate Matter) concentrations may not be distinguishable, but appears to be minor.”
The study was done by placing monitoring equipment at seven different sites in and around the Airport, and was designed to measure TSP Lead and Hexavalent Chromium, PM10 Mass and Carbon, PM2.5 mass and components, continuous particle count (ultrafine), volatile organic compounds, carbonyls (acetaldehyde, etc.), and continuous Carbon Monoxide.
Four key study questions helped officials decide which components should be monitored:
1) Can lead found in General Aviation fuel be measured in surrounding communities?
2) What are PM and air toxic levels in surrounding communities?
3) What are the ultrafine particle count concentrations in the surrounding communities?
4) Are aircraft emissions distinguishable from other emissions sources?
A Working Group composed of Airport management, community groups, representatives from the cities of Los Angeles and Santa Monica (airport authorities), aviation industry representatives, and State and Federal Congressional representatives provided “initial input on specific issues, commented on the sampling locations,” and coordinated the community outreach.
Martin Rubin, Director of Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution and a member of the Working Group, noted in a letter to the SCAQMD his concerns about the inadequacies of the monitoring study. Rubin’s letter stated that the study would not address health risks associated with exposure to aircraft emissions or evaluate the extent of kerosene odors throughout the neighboring community. Other study deficiencies, according to Rubin, include the “inability to separate sources of measured pollutants” and “its limited sensitivity to measure pollutants and odor.”
One community member asked Fine if he would be willing to live in an area affected by the jet fumes. He responded, “I would not want to live there if I had a choice. I would not want to live there because there’s a nuisance issue regarding the jet fumes.”
Next steps include a complete analysis of the results, the development of a draft report to be reviewed by the EPA and the Working Group, and the completion of the final report.