For Immediate Release - May 28, 2014

Massachusetts DPH Releases Environmental Health Study of Logan Airport

Study recommends continued effort by Massport, communities to mitigate air emissions

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) today released the first comprehensive study on the environmental health impacts of Logan International Airport, among residents of the 17 communities that are within a five-mile radius of the airport.

The study, conducted by DPH’s Bureau of Environmental Health was based on personal interview data for over 6,000 adults and more than 2,000 children in the study area. The health data were linked with state-of-the-art air modeling data to estimate possible exposures to airport-related emissions.

While Logan Airport provides only a small contribution to overall air pollution in the 17 communities, the study revealed some elevation in respiratory health outcomes in the high exposure area near the perimeter of Logan Airport, including:

  • In adults, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease was statistically significantly higher for residents who have lived three or more years in the high exposure area.
  • Children in the high exposure area were three-to-four times more likely to report asthma-related symptoms compared with children in the low exposure area.
  • The study did not find a statistically significant increase in other respiratory, cardiovascular, and noise-related effects on health.

The study finds that Massport has taken numerous measures over the past several years to reduce sources of air pollution on airport property, such as increasing use of compressed natural gas fuels in airport vehicles and implementing electricity charging stations to facilitate use of alternative fuel vehicles. Massport has also been working with the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center to address workforce issues among Massport employees.

DPH’s study recommends that Massport expand these efforts with community health centers within the high exposure area to better address respiratory health, notably among children in closest proximity to the airport. Similar initiatives should be considered in consultation with local communities that would serve to further reduce the burden of air pollution on residents in closest proximity to the airport.

“These findings should provide a roadmap for community and agency actions that can be taken to further reduce impacts of air pollution on the health of residents in these communities,” said DPH Associate Commissioner Suzanne Condon.

DPH has initiated a series of action steps to address and reduce any potential impacts by the airport on public health.

DPH will work with relevant local municipalities to conduct additional indoor air quality assessments in schools and public buildings to further asses potential impacts. DPH will also continue to support the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s efforts to reduce motor vehicle emissions, including implementation of the Low Emissions Vehicle program and diesel engine retrofit initiatives.

The Massachusetts Legislature directed DPH to conduct an environmental risk assessment of the health impacts within a 5-mile radius of Logan Airport. The 17 communities within the study area were Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Hull, Lynn, Malden, Medford, Melrose, Milton, Nahant, Quincy, Revere, Saugus, Somerville and Winthrop.

The study was conducted in response to a Legislative mandate and began in 2002. It is the first of its kind in the country. DPH worked closely with Massport and utilized all available airport operations data from 2005 for the study. The results were presented at a meeting in Winthrop this evening to the public and a Community Advisory Committee that was formed in the early stages of the study.

The complete study, appendices, executive summary and FAQ can be found at: www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dph/programs/environmental-health/investigations/logan-airport-health-study.html.

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