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Airport Pollution Discussed:

Air pollution in the Los Angeles neighborhood immediately east of Santa Monica Airport (SMO) was the subject of a recent UCLA study, and one of the authors called the incidence of ultrafine particles at that location “quite elevated compared to [other] Westside and Santa Monica areas.”

Suzanne E. Paulson addressed a Monday, January 11, meeting sponsored by the North Westdale Neighborhood Association and Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution (CRAAP), and she reviewed the findings of the study.

Billed as a discussion of “the science of Santa Monica Airport air pollution,” the evening included presentations by Dr. Philip Fine, Atmospheric Measurements Manager of the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) and Bill Piazza of the Office of Environmental Health of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) as well as Professor Paulson.

Paulson’s study, conducted in April through August 2008, identified elevated ultrafine particle concentrations downwind of SMO – elevated by factors of 10 and 2.5 at 100 and 660 meters downwind, respectively, over background levels. “Aircraft did not appreciably elevate average levels of black carbon … although spikes in concentration of these pollutants were observed associated with jet takeoffs,” the article’s abstract stated. “UPF [ultrafine particle] concentrations remained elevated for extended periods associated particularly with jet departures, but also with jet taxi and idle, and operations of propeller aircraft.”

Los Angeles City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl moderated the forum, and he introduced California Assemblyman Ted Lieu and L.A. City Councilmember Jan Perry to the approximately 200 who attended. Lieu, who has sponsored as-yet unsuccessful legislation to mandate air quality studies at SMO, said the UCLA study confirmed that residents “have been breathing in high levels of pollutants” for many years. Perry, who sits on the governing board of the SCAQMD, said that “ultrafine particles are the new battle that we must engage.”

Rosendahl’s L.A. council district includes Pacific Palisades, Mar Vista, and Venice, and so it surrounds Santa Monica – or “embraces” the city, as he is fond of telling Santa Monica audiences. But speaking to his Los Angeles constituents in the North Westdale neighborhood, he referred to Santa Monica as “the little town in the middle of our district that has it so all takeoffs and landings [at SMO] are over us” and not over Santa Monica. At one point, he called for “no jets out of this airport” – a sentiment that many Santa Monicans share – and at another, he allowed that if it were within his power, “I would shut this airport down” – a sentiment that rather fewer might share.

Contact Terence Lyons

310.577.6507 x.107


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