It’s Not Just Noise: Don’t Breathe the Air

You hear the shriek and whine of low-altitude jetliners overhead – but you can’t see the carcinogens and other toxic emissions that drift down when planes pass by.

Imagine that these emissions are neon green and blue and pink — that they lightly dust the tree leaves and houses and sidewalks of the city, like snow — that you had to shake them out of your hair and brush them off your clothes before you entered a building.

The noxious chemicals spewed by low-flying aircraft are invisible to the naked eye. So they are easy to ignore — but no less dangerous.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency issued a report called “Evaluation of Air Pollutant Emissions from Subsonic Commercial Jet Aircraft” in April, 1999. Among its findings:

Ultimately, EPA’s principal concern in evaluating and controlling emissions is the preservation of human health… Mobile sources [aircraft] emit VOC and NOx (O3 precursors), PM (both PM10 and PM2.5), SO2 and CO. Other air pollutant species include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) found in the particulate emissions and certain volatile organic compounds (VOCs).”

The EPA report details some known health effects of these compounds:

Ozone: Lung function impairment, effects on exercise performance, increased airway responsiveness, increased susceptibility to respiratory infection, increased hospital admissions and emergency room visits, and pulmonary inflammation, lung structure damage.

Carbon Monoxide: Cardiovascular effects, especially in those persons with heart conditions (e.g., decreased time to onset of exercise-induced angina).

Nitrogen Oxides: Lung irritation and lower resistance to respiratory infections

Particulate Matter: Premature mortality [early death], aggravation of respiratory and cardiovascular disease, changes in lung function and increased respiratory symptoms, changes to lung tissues and structure, and altered respiratory defense mechanisms.

Volatile Organic Compounds: Eye and respiratory tract irritation, headaches, dizziness, visual disorders, and memory impairment

You can read the full report here:

You breathe this toxic mix every time airplanes pass overhead. It’s bad for us and the planet.

Contact your New York City, state and federal representatives.

Tell them to put human and environmental health before airline profits.

Find your representatives on this website:


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