A landmark study to determine the emissions that can be apportioned to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is unlike any done anywhere in the world, said Roger Johnson, deputy executive director for environmental affairs at Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), the city agency that operates LAX and three other regional airports in Southern California.
Johnson said they didn’t want anyone to say that the airport agency performed a biased study, so they gathered a group of “unimpeachable experts” to perform and oversee the study.
The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) has control over aircraft emissions, not the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Johnson noted.
The study is not intended to be a monitoring project or a health effects epidemiology study for the community, said Darcy Zarubiak, associate director of Jacobs Consultancy, a consultant group that is spearheading the study.
Zarubiak’s practice specialization is environmental and sustainability management systems, air quality analysis, and environmental services/environmental assessments.
The LAX Air Quality and Source Apportionment Study is a three-year project that began early this year and “will satisfy requirements of the LAX Master Plan Mitigation and Monitoring Reporting Program commitments and other legal settlement agreements,” states Los Angeles World Airports documentation. “Air emissions are of utmost interest to the surrounding communities who participated in the master planning process and they will remain key stakeholders for this project.”
The South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) has offered to provide funding for five additional mobile test sites from a grant received from the EPA to assist in gathering the most information possible for this study.
“I applaud Roger Johnson for the true environmentalist he is — for hearing and understanding — and for working with the AQMD to arrange these additional monitors,” said Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, whose 11th District includes LAX.
“The AQMD has also provided great leadership and justice for the people with this offer, and they and LAWA rock,” Rosendahl said. “I am absolutely delighted that LAWA heard the community when it spoke about the need for monitors regarding air quality and Roger, [LAWA executive director] Gina Marie Lindsey and the community deserve the praise for the hard work they’ve done.”
Rosendahl said his praise also extends to two staff members, Mike Bonin, his chief of staff, and Chad Molnar, his LAX community liaison, for “rolling up their sleeves and getting to work on this important issue.”
The three-year study is divided into two main components — the Technology and Methodology Feasibility Demonstration Project (Phase 1 and 2) and the Long-term Study (Phase 3).
The demonstration project will wrap up at the end of December, Zarubiak said.
“Because this is a landmark study, attempting to document source emissions, it is critical to begin with a demonstration project that tests methods and protocols with the results” input into the long-term study methodology, states Los Angeles World Airports documentation. “Monitoring techniques ranging from experimental to proven will be evaluated as part of this effort. These will be correlated with equally innovative, as well as established, modeling techniques, according to Los Angeles World Airports documentation.
“Once the findings of the demonstration project are used to validate the scientific approach of the study, the long-term study will commence, including data collection, analysis and summary of findings.”
Zarubiak said other surrounding emission sources include major freeways — Interstate 405, the San Diego Freeway; and Interstate 105, the Century Freeway — and major roads such as Century, Sepulveda, Aviation and La Cienega Boulevards, Imperial Highway, Westchester Parkway and Manchester Avenue.
Facilities that produce emissions include the Hyperion Water Treatment Plant, Chevron El Segundo Refinery, Chevron Marine Terminal, El Segundo Power LLC-El Segundo Generation Station and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) Scattergood Generating Station, said Zarubiak.
The technical working group designing the study includes air quality scientists, researchers and engineers from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the California Air Resources Board, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the State of California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, the Federal Aviation Administration, the University of Southern California, the Desert Research Institute and community organizations.
“We’ll look at everything that pollutes near LAX,” said Zarubiak.
Both “dispersion” and “receptor” modeling will be utilized. Dispersion modeling uses mathematical formulation to characterize the atmospheric processes that disperse a pollutant emitted by a source, according to the EPA.
Receptor models are mathematical or statistical procedures for identifying and quantifying the sources of air pollution at a receptor location.
Five data collection sites produced data completed on August 31st, but lab results are still being completed, Zarubiak said.
These five sites for preliminary collection included Aviation Boulevard south of Century Boulevard near the south runways; the southeast air cargo complex; and a field east of the south runway (northbound Aviation Boulevard on the right). Results from these five sites will assist in determining the pollution fingerprints and choosing the best monitoring sites so that “science will lead us,” said Zarubiak.
“Robust quality assurance and quality control will be part of this project,” said Zarubiak, as he listed some of the types of pollutants that would be scrutinized in the study.
POLLUTANTS TO BE TESTED — The categories of particulate matter include those with a diameter more than ten micrometers, between ten micrometers and 2.5 micrometers (PM10 and PM 2.5) and under 2.5 micrometers.
Ultra-fine particles (UFP) have a diameter of less than 0.1 micrometer. The absorption of these particles is thought to occur primarily through the lungs, and the initial interaction with the pulmonary epithelium causes a variety of adverse effects and is responsible for much of the cardio- pulmonary pathology observed, according to the Environmental Health Perspectives journal of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
Due to the small size of the ultra-fine particulates, individual particles are able to cross the pulmonary epithelium, entering the blood. From there, the particles are carried to the liver, bone marrow and heart, leading to systemic contamination, according to the journal.
Other elements that will be tested for include CO (carbon monoxide), CO2 (carbon dioxide), SO2 (sulfur dioxide), NOx (oxides of nitrogen), VOCs (volatile organic compounds emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids), carbonyls and steranes (biomarkers for hydrocarbon which includes any of numerous organic compounds such as benzene and methane).
Dozens of additional pollutants will be studied as well, said Zarubiak.
PUBLIC COMMENT — During public comment, speakers asked for monitors to be placed in Playa del Rey and Westchester, saying that the monitoring stations are all located toward the east, and not west and south, of the airport.
One speaker requested that markers be placed in jet fuel to identify that pollutant, and that the season of the year be taken into account for high volume air traffic.
Another speaker who talked about the smell of the emissions and the black soot in the Playa del Rey neighborhood asked for a monitor in the area.
“LAWA deserves credit for leadership by initiating this air quality apportionment study,” said Denny Schneider, president of Alliance for Regional Solution to Airport Congestion. “Since the FAA, which is charged with controlling aircraft pollution, has abdicated its responsibility, this study is crucial.
“Study procedures, however, are not yet available, so we don’t know if the test results collected this next year, when reduced flight activity is anticipated at LAX, can be accurately extrapolated to the future when air traffic is expected to be expanded.”
LAWA is constructing a Web site where project and meeting information will be posted, scheduled to be available in the near future.
Written questions and comments can be submitted to:
Los Angeles World Airports, Attention: AQSAS, 7301 World Way West, Suite 300, Los Angeles 90045.