Asthma is more likely for children living near Logan Airport

Does living close to the airport increase the risk of childhood asthma? According to the Logan Airport Health Study (Conducted by Massachusetts Department of Public Health Bureau of Environmental Health), children who live in neighborhoods bordering Logan International Airport are as much as four times more likely to wheeze, experience shortness of breath, and exhibit other signs of undiagnosed asthma compared with children who live farther away.

Childhood asthma rates are much higher in Boston than statewide

Annual Average Crude Rates of Hospital Admission for Asthma per 10,000 people aged 0 - 14

Children in East Boston are more likely to have asthma than those living elsewhere

Air pollutants are the main trigger of pediatric asthma

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health conducted a comprehensive environmental health assessment of the areas near Logan Airport. In the report, it examined the prevalence of respiratory outcomes among children for those exposed to different levels of exposure to pollution.

  • High exposure to air pollutants due to the airport.
  • Medium exposure to air pollutants due to the airport.
  • Low exposure: low exposure to air pollutants due to the airport.
  • The main air pollutants are comprised of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometer (PM2.5). Areas near Logan Airport have higher concentrations of NOx and PM2.5.

    Based on the study, a positive correlation between the exposure degree and the possibility to suffer from asthma has been found.

    Children are more likely to have asthma when living in HIGH EXPOSURE area

    As you can see from the chart, probable asthma are more prevalent in the high exposure areas than in the medium or low exposure areas. Similarly, the prevalence of chronic bronchitis increased as the potential for exposure increased. In sum, probable asthma or undiagnosed asthma, and chronic bronchitis have relation to the distance from Logan Airport. However, current asthma among children is similar across all three exposure areas. In other words, there is no clear relationship between the current asthma of children and the distance from Logan Airport.

    The “Killers” of Logan Airport’s air pollution

    Emissions Inventory for Logan Airport, 2005 (kg/year)

    Aircraft: Including aircraft approaching and departing in the air, landings and takeoffs, aircraft movements on the runways, taxiways, and areas near the terminals.
    GSE: Aircraft ground support equipment that is needed at the terminal to load or handle arriving or departing aircraft.
    APUs: Auxiliary power units at the terminals used to energize aircraft at the terminals.
    PF: Parking facilities: emissions from vehicles in the parking garages.
    Roadways: Motor vehicle traffic on the Logan property.
    SS: Stationary Sources: Massport‘s power boilers that provide power or steam to the airport.
    TF: Training Fires: Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting: is a special category of firefighting that involves the response, hazard mitigation, evacuation and possible rescue of passengers and crew of an aircraft involved in (typically) an airport ground emergency.