Health Impacts of Aviation-Related Air Pollutants

Project Category: 
Emissions
Project Number: 
11

The demand for aviation transport is expected to increase over the next two decades, and that may lead to an increase in some emissions. The FAA recognizes the growing public health concern associated with aviation emissions, either in communities near airports, nationally, or globally. To quantify the air pollution exposures and subsequent human health risks with reduced uncertainties, the FAA initiated this research project through PARTNER. The main science objective of this project is to understand and evaluate how aviation emissions contribute to local and regional air quality, through a combination of measurement and modeling studies, and to evaluate the potential incremental health risks due to air pollutants such as particulate matter, ozone, and hazardous air pollutants.

Key ongoing and completed activities

  • Evaluation of aviation emissions contributing most to health risks in the United States
  • Development of statistical models to quantify the contribution of aviation emissions to pollutant concentrations in communities near airports (with field studies at PVD and LAX airports)
  • Examination of the influence of chemistry-transport model scale and resolution on estimates of health risks from aviation emissions
  • Modeling of the particulate matter-related health risks of current and future aviation emissions, considering the influence of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) as well as changes in background pollution and population patterns.
  • Consideration of whether health risks differ for different particle constituents related to aircraft emissions

Relevance to NextGen environmental and energy goals

This project will explicitly evaluate the implications of NextGen environmental and energy goals for public health, though the health risk projection model. In addition, studies modeling the contribution of emissions at individual airports to local air quality will inform environmental impact statements in support of National Environmental Policy Act requirements. This research project will also help to consider the relative importance of various emitted pollutants, allowing for improved prioritization, evaluation of potential tradeoffs amongst emitted pollutants, and comprehensive policy analyses for aviation management pursued under other PARTNER research projects.

Objective

Spatially-resolved characterization of the exposure and health implications of aviation-related emissions, from local to national scales

Key results to date

  • Fine particulate matter dominates the health risks from aviation emissions, with a significant contribution from secondarily-formed particles
  • Statistical analyses of monitoring data are able to differentiate aircraft contributions from the contributions of other local sources and regional atmospheric transport
  • Health risks of aviation emissions in the future are strongly influenced by changing background concentrations and population growth as well as changing emissions

Coordination/collaboration with other PARTNER projects

  • Collaboration with Project 16 on multiple air quality modeling studies
  • Collaboration with Project 3 and Project 27 on health impacts quantification

Participating universities

Boston University School of Public Health, Harvard School of Public Health

Lead investigator

Jonathan I. Levy, Boston University School of Public Health, jonlevy@bu.edu

FAA program manager

Christopher Sequeira, christopher.sequeira@faa.gov

Downloads and links

Jonathan I. Levy, Hsiao-Hsien Hsu, Ying Zhou, Stefani Penn, Robin Dodson, David Diez, Gary Adamkiewicz, Jose Vallarino, Steven Melly, Elizabeth Kamai, E. Andres Houseman, Francesca Dominici, John D. Spengler. Health Impacts of Aviation-Related Air Pollutants. The PARTNER Project 11 final report. PARTNER Report No. PARTNER-COE-2015-001 (2015)

Hsu HH., Adamkiewicz G., Houseman E.A., Spengler J.D., Levy J.I., Using mobile monitoring to characterize roadway and aircraft contributions to ultrafine particle concentrations near a mid-sized airport, Atmospheric Environment (2014), doi: 10.1016/ j.atmosenv.2014.02.023.

Hsu HH, Adamkiewicz G, Houseman EA, Zarubiak D, Spengler JD, Levy JI. Contributions of aircraft arrivals and departures to ultrafine particle counts near Los Angeles International Airport. Sci Tot Environ 444: 347-355 (2013)

Diez DM, Dominici F, Zarubiak D, Levy JI. Statistical approaches for identifying air pollutant mixtures associated with aircraft departures at Los Angeles International Airport. Environ Sci Technol 46: 8229−8235 (2012)

Jonathan I. Levy, David Diez,Yiping Dou, Christopher D. Barr, Francesca Dominici. A Meta-Analysis and Multisite Time-Series Analysis of the Differential Toxicity of Major Fine Particulate Matter Constituents.Am J Epidemiol 175: 1091-1099 (2012)

Hsu, H.-H., Adamkiewicz, G., Houseman, E.A., Vallarino, J., Melly, S.J., Wayson, R.L., Spengler, J.D., Levy, J.I. The Relationship Between Aviation Activities and Ultrafine Particulate Matter Concentrations near a Mid-Sized Airport. Atmospheric Environment 50: 328-337. (2012)

Levy, J. I., Woody, M., Baek, B. H., Shankar, U. and Arunachalam, S. (2011), Current and Future Particulate-Matter-Related Mortality Risks in the United States from Aviation Emissions During Landing and Takeoff. Risk Anaysisl 32: 237-249 (2012).

Arunachalam, S., Wang, B., Davis, N., Baek, B.H., Levy, J.I. Effect of Chemistry-Transport Model Scale and Resolution on Population Exposure to PM2.5 from Aircraft Emissions during Landing and Takeoff, Atmos Environ 45: 3294-3300 (2011)

Jonathan Levy, Hsiao-Hsien Hsu, Steven Melly. High-Priority Compounds Associated with Aircraft Emissions: PARTNER Project 11 final report on subtask: Health Risk Prioritization of Aircraft Emissions Related Air Pollutants. October 2008. Report No. PARTNER-COE-2008-008

• Ying Zhou, Jonathan I. Levy. Between-airport heterogeneity in air toxics emissions associated with individual cancer risk thresholds and population risks. Environmental Health 8:22 (2009).

• Robin E. Dodson, E. Andres Houseman, Barbara Morin, Jonathan I. Levy. An analysis of continuous black carbon concentrations in proximity to an airport and major roadways. Atmospheric Environment 43: 3764-3773 (2009). Published article available from journal Web site. Download preprint (pdf 2.3MB)

• Robin E. Dodson An analysis of continuous black carbon concentrations in proximity to an airport and major roadways. Epidemiology 19 (6): S64 (2008).

• Hsu H-H, Adamkiewicz G, Vallarino J, Melly SJ, Spengler JD, Levy JI. Contributions of airport activities to air pollution levels in surrounding neighborhoods. Epidemiology 19 (6): S293 (2008).

• Ying Zhou, Levy JI. Predictors of heterogeneity in airport emissions of air toxics associated with individual cancer risk thresholds. Epidemiology 19 (6): S190-S191 (2008).

• Ying Zhou, Levy JI. Predictors of heterogeneity in aircraft emissions of air toxics associated with individual and population cancer risks. Society for Risk Analysis Annual Meeting, December 7-10 2008, Boston, MA.

• Arunachalam S, Baek BH, Wang B, Davis N, Woody M, Levy JI. PM2.5-related health risks from aircraft emissions – a case study of the influence of chemistry-transport model scale and resolution at three U.S. Airports. Presented at the Society for Risk Analysis Annual Meeting, Dec 6-9 2009, Baltimore, MD.

• Adamkiewicz G, Hsu HH, Vallarino J, Melly SJ, Spengler JD, Levy JI. Nitrogen dioxide concentrations in neighborhoods adjacent to a commercial airport: a land use regression modeling study. Environ Health 9: 73 (2010).

• Adamkiewicz G, Hsu HH, Melly SJ, Zarubiak D, Spengler JD, Levy JI. Contributions of aircraft activity, local sources, and meteorology to ultrafine particle counts near a large airport. Presented at the 2010 Joint Conference of the International Society of Exposure Science & International Society for Environmental Epidemiology, Seoul, Korea, August 2010.

• Hsu HH, Adamkiewicz G, Houseman EA, Vallarino J, Melly SJ, Wayson R, Spengler JD, Levy JI. Spatiotemporal patterns of ultrafine particle counts in neighborhoods surrounding an airport. Presented at the 2010 Joint Conference of the International Society of Exposure Science & International Society for Environmental Epidemiology, Seoul, Korea, August 2010.