Congressman Smith Reintroduces the Protecting Airport Communities from Particle Emissions Act

Discussion:

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today, Congressman Smith reintroduced the Protecting Airport Communities from Particle Emissions Act, legislation to establish a national study on the sources, characteristics, dispersion, and potential health effects of ultrafine particles (UFPs).

“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. Combatting negative health impacts from aviation emissions is key to ensuring a better quality of life for communities surrounding airports.”

In recent years, local studies conducted around major airports have indicated that UFPs may be having detrimental effects on human health. These studies also showed that aviation contributes significantly to the dispersion of UFPs. Unfortunately, the extent to which communities and residents are exposed, in addition to the health effects of UFP inhalation, are not yet fully known. Owing in part to a lack of information about UFPs, there exists a gap in regulation where federal agencies do not differentiate between UFP’s and larger particles in the atmosphere.

More must be done to understand how UFPs affect communities around airports, to what extent aviation contributes to the creation and diffusion of UFPs, and whether or not sustainable aviation fuels could help reduce the number of these particles in the atmosphere.

The Protecting Airport Communities From Particle Emissions Act will help to answer many of these questions. It directs the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to work with the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a national study of UFP generation and dispersal around major hub airports, like Sea-Tac International Airport in Washington state and others around the country. The study will draw from data provided by agencies like the FAA, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Health and Human Services (HHS), among others. Communities have a right to know whether the air they breathe contains high levels of UFPs and how these particles affect their health.

As a Member of the Quiet Skies Caucus, Congressman Smith continues to fight in Congress to reduce the impacts from aviation around Sea-Tac International Airport while also ensuring that the airport remains a vital economic engine for the region. This study parallels research on airport traffic and air quality currently being conducted at the University of Washington and builds upon the collaborative efforts Congressman Smith has been engaged in with local communities and the Port of Seattle.