Pollution from LAX could be impacting residents who live up to 10 miles away, and with a higher level of concentration than previously thought, according to a study released Thursday.
Researchers from USC’s Keck School of Medicine found toxic particulate concentrations were up to five times higher within nine square miles of the airport than in other areas of the city- and up to 10 times higher within two miles of the complex - according to the study published in the American Chemical Society’s Environmental Science and Technology journal.
Previous studies have dismissed the impact of pollution created by airplane traffic on the surrounding communities, finding that particulates dissipated quickly.
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But the new study suggests residents downwind of the airport - to the east - in areas including Hawthorne, El Segundo, Westmont, South Los Angeles, Lennox and Inglewood are subject to higher levels of ultrafine particles than could be produced by hundreds of miles of freeway traffic.
Those particles form from condensation of hot exhaust vapors.
“LAX emissions adversely impacted air quality much farther than reported in previous airport studies,” according to the report. It also noted that other areas to the south can also be affected during some weather conditions.
That exposure could lead to blocked arteries and make asthma, other lung conditions and heart ailments worse than residents in areas away from the freeway.
The study concludes “LAX should be considered one of the most important sources of (particle matter concentration) in Los Angeles.”
The authors also reported the findings were not exclusive to LAX and were likely similar to other large airports.
Responding to the study, Los Angeles World Airports said it had not yet reviewed the report in detail, but pointed to a report released in January that indicated air toxins surrounding the area are comparable or lower than elsewhere in the South Bay.
“LAWA cannot directly control aircraft-related emissions. But, LAWA has taken steps to reduce emissions that are within our responsibility and influence,” read the statement.
The statement went on to point to a number of initiatives airport management has taken toward implementing renewable energy technologies and other pollution-reducing projects.