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Proximity to Airports Increases Exposure to Ultrafine Particles

Study finds extent of downwind pollution found to extend at least 660 meters

FRIDAY, Nov. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Emissions emanating from airports reach for hundreds of meters downwind, and increase exposure to ultrafine particles by a factor of 2.5 over background levels, according to a study in the Nov. 1 issue of Environmental Science & Technology.

Shishan Hu, Ph.D., of the University of California in Los Angeles, and colleagues measured air pollutant concentrations downwind of Santa Monica Airport to calculate the area affected by ultrafine particles emitted from the aircraft landing there.

The area affected by ultrafine particles emanating from the airport extended more than 660 meters downwind and 250 meters perpendicular to the wind on the downwind side of the airport, the researchers found. At 100 meters downwind, emissions from aircraft elevated ultrafine particle concentrations by a factor of 10, and elevated them by a factor of 2.5 at 660 meters downwind.

"The long downwind impact distance (i.e., compared to nearby freeways at the same time of day) is likely primarily due to the large volumes of aircraft emissions containing higher initial concentrations of ultrafine particles than on-road vehicles," the authors write. "Aircraft did not appreciably elevate average levels of black carbon, particle-bound polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, although spikes in concentration of these pollutants were observed associated with jet take-offs."

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