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«Santa Monica Airport: Is it Ruining Our Neighborhood Air? Photo taken by author at Sardis Ave. and Armacost Ave. Jake Bloch John Adams Middle School ...»

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Santa Monica Airport:

Is it Ruining Our Neighborhood


Photo taken by author at Sardis Ave. and Armacost Ave.

Jake Bloch

John Adams Middle School

Science Magnet Program

Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District

7th Grade Science Fair Project

April, 2002

Author Taking Measurements at Gate to East of Museum of Flying

Materials Used in Airport and Ultrafine Particle Study


The author wishes to acknowledge the following scientists

for their help in making this experiment possible:

John R. Froines, Ph.D.

Professor of Toxicology, UCLA School of Public Health Director, Southern California Particle Center and Supersite Andrea Hricko, M.A.

Director, Community Outreach and Education Southern California Environmental Health Sciences Center (USC and UCLA) at USC Keck School of Medicine Charles Kersey Office of Air Quality Education California Air Resources Board Jim Lerner, Ph.D.

Strategic Analysis and Liaison California Air Resources Board David Mazzera, Ph.D.

Research Division California Air Resources Board Bill Piazza, Ph.D.

Environmental Assessment Coordinator Office of Environmental Health and Safety Los Angeles Unified School District



Background Report

Hypotheses....................... 10 Purpose........................ 10 Materials....................... 11 Procedures....................... 11 Analysis........................ 14 Conclusion....................... 17 Bibliography...................... 21

------Appendix 1 Aerial Photo of Measurement Locations Appendix 2 Table of Overall Means Appendix 3 Table of All Data Gathered

Graphs that correspond to Table of All Data Gathered:

29th Street Appendix 4 Graph Appendix 5 Graph - Clover Park Appendix 6 Graph - Clover Park Appendix 7 Graph - Museum of Flying Appendix 8 Graph - Museum of Flying Appendix 9 Graph - Museum of Flying Appendix 10 Graph - Museum of Flying Appendix 11 Graph - Museum of Flying Appendix 12 Graph - Museum of Flying Appendix 13 Graph - Museum of Flying Appendix 14 Graph - 2747 Armacost Appendix 15 Graph - 2747 Armacost Appendix 16 Graph - Sardis and Armacost Appendix 17 Graph - Sardis and Armacost Appendix 18 Graph - Sardis and Armacost Appendix 19 Graph - Sardis and Bundy Appendix 20 Graph - Sardis and Bundy Appendix 21 Graph - Bundy and Woodbine

Data logs that correspond to graphs:

–  –  –

New research is showing that ultrafine particles are highly toxic. There is insufficient data on ultrafine particle emissions from airports. Data was taken using a P-Trak Ultrafine Particle Counter. Measurements were taken less than 100 meters from airport activity, away from auto traffic, and were taken between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m., during peak aircraft operation times. Weather, wind, and temperature were monitored. Clover Park had an overall mean particulate level (14,695 pt/cc; range 4,690 – 27,500) that was similar to a no-traffic condition (19,567 pt/cc; range 17,100 – 21,400) primarily because it is rarely downwind and the aircraft are high in the air by the time they reach the park. The mean level at the gate to the east of the Museum of Flying was twice as great (35,335 pt/cc; range 5,400 – 500,000+) due to the closeness of aircraft activity and its higher, jet-based activity level. The intersection of Sardis & Armacost Aves., E of the airport, had the highest mean level (47,365 pt/cc; range 6,120 – 398,000), possibly due to WSW prevailing winds and greater aircraft activity. Planes usually begin take off and landing on the eastern end of the airport, and aircraft exhaust is produced near ground level. Measurements taken adjacent to the airport on Bundy Dr., a busy street, showed that combined airport and automobile traffic further augmented mean particulate levels (66,457 pt/cc; range 14,400 – 239,000). The latter observation was confirmed in a followup set of measurements when the mean from combined auto and air traffic (56,104 pt/cc; range 4,940 – 300,000) was found to be greater than the mean from auto traffic alone (41,276 pt/cc; range 10,800 – 428,000), despite the fact that measurements from auto traffic were taken within one to two meters from their source. At all locations, fumes were associated with peak ultrafine particle levels. The highest levels were generated by jet aircraft idling and taxiing.

According to the Directors of the Southern California Particle Center and Supersite, funded by the U.S. EPA and California Air Resources Board, these are quite significant findings that may represent the first national study of airport sources of ultrafine particulates and justify continued measurements in the vicinity of airports.


This project will measure ultrafine particles from Santa Monica Airport because the author frequently notices the odor of aircraft exhaust in the neighborhood, and he has been concerned with its health hazards.

Santa Monica Airport is the busiest single runway airport in the United States. Its operations exceed 200,000 annually. The aircraft include single and multi-engine piston (propeller planes that use aviation gas, which is similar to automobile gasoline), turbo-prop (propeller planes run by turbine engines that run on jet fuel), turbojet (jet aircraft, run by turbine engines), and rotocraft (helicopters with turbine or piston engines). Statistics show that aircraft operations are increasing over time.16 Airports are major sources of pollution due to aircraft, ground vehicles, stationary power generating equipment, and aircraft refueling and maintenance operations. One 747 arriving and departing from JFK International creates as much smog as a car driven 5,600 miles. Furthermore, airplane pollution has not been as strictly regulated as automobile emissions.14 Airports are a source of pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, ozone, and the three worst: 1,3 butadiene, formaldehyde, and benzene, which appear to be the greatest carcinogens. 13,16 Particulate matter is a newly identified health hazard from airports.

Particulate matter, or PM, is also known as dust, dirt, soot, smoke, and liquid droplets in the air. It is the largest cause of haze or smog. There are two ways that particles get into the air. One way is a direct release of particles from motor vehicles, fires, factories, construction sites, unpaved roads, and tilled fields. The other way is an indirect formation when gasses from burning fuels react with sunlight and water vapor and change into particles.22 Particulate matter causes a variety of health problems. Some of these health effects include aggravated asthma, increases in respiratory symptoms, chronic bronchitis, decreased lung function, and premature death, particularly in sensitive individuals such as children, the elderly, and people who already have heart and lung disease.15 More than a dozen studies have linked particulate matter to premature birth and infant deaths.2,17 Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Basel, Switzerland, concluded that as many as eleven percent of infant deaths in the United States - about 3,000 per year - may be a result of microscopic particles in the air. This, as yet unpublished, study is based on earlier research by the EPA and Centers for Disease Control that looked at 4 million infants in 86 urban areas and compared the numbers of deaths with changing rates of particulate pollution. The study concluded that as particulate matter increased in the air, the infant death rate rose by ten to forty percent.23 Another study by UCLA researchers, which was published in 2001 and focused on 97,518 newborns in Southern California, concluded that mothers are twenty percent more likely to have a baby prematurely when exposed to higher amounts of microscopic particles in the last six weeks of pregnancy.20 The Children’s Health Study, sponsored by the California Air Resources Board, has been following 5,500 children in 12 communities for 10 years from elementary through high school.3 The scientists have reported that children who are living in communities with higher amounts of particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, and acid vapor have lungs that develop and grow more slowly; their lungs are also less able to move air through them. This decreased lung development may have permanent health effects as the children grow up.5 In addition, the researchers found that children who move away from study communities show increased lung development if the new communities have lower particulate pollution. The children show decreased lung development if the new communities have higher levels of particulates.1 The study also found that children with asthma who are exposed to higher concentrations of particles are more likely to develop bronchitis.11 A March 6, 2002 article by the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that greater inhalation of fine particle matter in heavily populated areas increases the chances of dying of lung cancer, heart attacks, and respiratory failure. The researchers studied over 500,000 adults for about 16 years, in 156 cities, and found that doubling the follow-up time tripled the mortality rates.

Regardless of personal health habits, deaths related to fine particulate matter remain the same. Larger particles and gaseous pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and ozone did not have an effect on mortality rates. However, pollutants such as sulfate particles and sulfur dioxide are associated with increased mortality rates. The American Lung Association comments that the inhalation of fine particles has an equivalent danger to inhaling second hand smoke. The risk of inhaling fine particle matter is also similar to the risk of being moderately overweight.18,19 This study suggests that the decreased lung development and increased asthma observed in the Children’s Health Study, described earlier in this report, was affected by the fine particle matter.

Particulate matter is also an environmental hazard.

It lands on soil and waters, which changes the land’s chemical and nutrient balance. This, in turn, creates problems for the health of animals and plants.22 People who ingest animals and plants that have been polluted by particulate matter are also indirectly affected.

Particulate matter is measured in several groups:

large particles (greater than 10 microns in diameter), coarse particles (less than 10 microns but greater than 2.5 microns in diameter), fine particles (less than 2.5 microns but greater than 0.1 microns in diameter), and ultra-fine (less than 0.1 of a micron in diameter). As a comparison, a micron is a millionth of a meter. A human hair is 70 microns thick.7 Ultrafine particles are more dangerous than larger particles because it is easier for them to bypass the nasal and lung defenses and lodge in the bottom of the lung. New unpublished data has shown that ultrafine particle matter is extremely toxic, and people should be exposed as little as possible.i Researchers are studying whether ultrafine particles are more toxic than larger particles and diesel samples.12 These particles can enter the body through cells and directly into the bloodstream. Scientists think that when it enters the bloodstream, it causes particle-related heart problems.

Ultrafine particles are shaped like linked circles:

During fuel combustion, organic chemicals can bind more easily on these particles because of the greater surface area available. When the chemicals are released into cells, they create toxicity. In addition to the greater toxicity because of the surface area, fuel combustion produces great numbers of ultrafine particles, which makes them dangerous to health even though their mass is small relative to all particulate matter.4 Epidemiologic research suggests that even when particulate matter is below U.S. and European standards, it still affects health and longevity.6 We know that rotocraft, single piston, turboprop, and turbojet planes emit ultrafine particle matter. However, scientists do not have good methods to measure the amount of ultrafine particles coming from aircraft and don’t know their percentage relative to all particulate matter.8,10One of the ways scientists estimate amounts of ultrafine

i Conversation with John R. Froines, Ph.D.

particles is by seeing how much black carbon (soot) and carbon monoxide is in the air. They measure those toxins because their levels tend to be similar to ultrafine particles.i,16 A June 1999 Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) study predicted emissions generated from Santa Monica Airport.16 They used mathematical modeling to estimate levels of several carcinogens, large particulate matter, and lead. Their risk analysis did not include levels contributed by no-airport (background) sources. The current acceptable margin of safety for cancer is a one-inone-million risk over a lifetime. The LAUSD study found that the cancer risk for areas immediately adjacent to the airport, particularly the “maximum exposed individual” south of the airport’s centerline and east of Bundy Drive, is thirteen in one million. With anticipated increases in turbojet and piston activity, the risk will be 22 and 26 in one million, respectively. The study also found that the amount of particulate matter exceeds California standards, but not national standards. There was so little available information on the quantity and toxicity of particulate matter that the investigator had to use other pollutants to estimate their levels. The report concluded that the study may have underestimated particle matter concentrations because their predicted levels did not match community reports of excessive soot and dust associated with increased jet activity.

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