A landmark study that began in 1999 to determine the amount of air pollution emanating from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is moving into its final phase, said Los Angeles World Airports officials.
A technical working group had formed to determine protocols and develop a work plan in 2000, but the events of Sept. 11, 2001 deferred the study, and efforts to resume the analysis began in 2002.
Phase III of the LAX Air Quality and Source Apportionment Study is being conducted by Tetra Tech, Inc. of Pasadena. This final and most important phase is the completion of air quality monitoring in communities around the airport, such as Westchester and Playa del Rey, followed by modeling and analyses to determine the extent of air pollution attributable to airport activities, according to LAWA officials.
“LAWA is committed to moving the LAX Air Quality and Source Apportionment Study forward, and with the core air monitoring program currently underway, the study and final report is expected to be completed early 2013,” said Michael D. Feldman, Los Angeles World Airports deputy executive director.
Dr. Joseph Lyou, president and chief executive officer of the Coalition for Clean Air, a public interest group that focuses on air quality issues in California, said, “This study will answer key questions about air pollution attributable to LAX.
“We’re excited about the initiation of the monitoring and data analysis program and look forward to seeing the results. Within the next year, we’ll have more air quality data from LAX than has been collected from any other airport in the world.”
The air quality monitoring approach includes 17 monitoring sites consisting of fixed-monitoring stations, community satellite sites, and saturation sampling sites in communities adjacent to LAX: El Segundo (south), Lennox (east), Playa del Rey (upwind northwest), and Westchester (north).
Four smaller satellite sites are located in Hawthorne, Westchester, El Segundo, and west of LAX; and gradient sampling will provide measurements for a subset of air pollutants at nine additional sites throughout the areas surrounding the airport.
Each of the fixed monitoring stations will contain a comprehensive array of monitoring equipment that remains at the same location to provide continuous or time-integrated measurements of a variety of air pollutants such as particulate matter, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, black carbon, volatile organic compounds and ultra-fine particles, airport officials said.
The air quality monitoring will occur over two seasons — the winter season, which began late January, and the summer season beginning in July — to account for typical seasonal changes in meteorology, airport operations, and the associated effects on pollutant transport and dispersion. Analysis of the monitoring and modeling results will occur during the latter half of 2012 and a study report is expected to be completed by spring 2013, note airport officials.
In September 2008, Roger Johnson, deputy executive director for environmental affairs at LAWA, informed the public at a meeting that “this landmark three-year study to determine emissions that can be apportioned to LAX is unlike any done anywhere in the world.” He said that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), not the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has control over aircraft emissions.
At that time, Darcy Zarubiak, associate director of Jacobs Consultancy, a consultant group spearheading the study, said “the study was not intended to be a monitoring project or a health effects epidemiology study for the community.”
According to LAWA officials in 2008, “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. 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.”
A technical working group of air quality scientists and researchers on the federal, state and local levels, as well as community organizations, will continue to provide advice, technical review, and comment on the study through its completion.
Public agencies represented in the technical working group include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, California Air Resources Board, South Coast Air Quality Management District, California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, and the FAA, said airport officials.
Status updates and comment submission during the course of the study are on the project website, www.lawa.org/welcome_lax.aspx?id=1060.