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New bill would study pollution in neighborhoods near airports like Sea-Tac


People living near airports often have to contend with noise pollution issues, but on this Earth Day a new bill from Washington Democrat senator Adam Smith put the focus on potential air pollution.

Congressman Smith reintroduced the Protecting Airport Communities from Particle Emissions Act, which seeks to understand how ultrafine particles (UFPs) are being inadvertently dispersed and the potential health effects on impacted communities.

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The study of ultrafine particles is still very much in its early phases, and only a few studies have been conducted. A recent air quality study at Los Angeles International Airport found that such particles were detectable in high concentrations at communities up to 10 miles away from the runways.

Such data indicates that neighborhoods surrounding Sea-Tac and the recently opened Paine Field in Everett could see similar effects. While it’s been shown that aviation plays a major role in the distribution of ultrafine particles, federal agencies do not differentiate between them and larger particles in the atmosphere, and so the impact on resident’s health isn’t clear as of yet.

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“A comprehensive national study is vital to understanding the health effects of ultrafine particles and to what extent airport communities are exposed,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “Federal leadership is needed to support future mitigation efforts with local and state partners. Combating negative health impacts from aviation emissions is key to ensuring a better quality of life for communities surrounding airports.”

This Act would direct the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to work with the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a national study on the dispersal of ultrafine particles around major hub airports, and determine how much surrounding communities are being impacted.

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