Health Study on Impacts of Logan Airport out Today

The results of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s (DPH) study of the environmental impacts of Logan Airports on the health of residents here will be released on Wednesday during a public meeting in Winthrop.

The meeting will take place Wednesday, May 28 (tonight) at 6:30 p.m. at the Winthrop Senior Center, 35 Harvard Street, Winthrop, MA.

According to the DPH, the Logan Study involved interviews with more than 6,000 adults living within a 5-mile radius of the airport evaluating potential health impacts of air pollution and noise on residents in 17 communities within the study area.

Associate DPH Commissioner Suzanne K. Condon and staff will review methodology used in the study and findings.  The study will be available on the Department’s website following the meeting.

The study was to be released in the last spring but as the spring came and went residents in Eastie environmental activists began scratching their heads wondering what the hold up was.

Now, a year later, Senator Anthony Petruccelli was in communication with DPH officials and pressured to have the study released before the summer.

Eastie’s AirInc., the neighborhood’s watchdog group that oversees mitigation for Logan impacts on the community, released a statement this week on the importance of the study’s release.

“As we await the release of the Logan Airport Air Quality Study, we reflect upon the importance of this opportunity to cast light on airport pollution, long asserted by the community to have negative health effects,” read AirInc.’s statement. “This opportunity has been made possible through legislation filed by Senator Anthony Petruccelli, when he was a State Representative. It is important to also recognize that negative health impacts are at the heart of the airport community debate and they can never be remunerated.”

The statement continued that after much delay the DPH is preparing to release this study and that it is important to recognize this as an opportunity for the community, airport and state to work together to address impacts and protect all citizens of the Commonwealth living in the vicinity of the airport from adverse health outcomes produced by airport operations.

“It is important to look for progress,” the statement concluded. “If health impacts are shown to be scientifically connected to airport operations, then we look to Massport and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to swiftly reduce those impacts by curtailing abuses such as the unnecessary use of Runway 33 Left for departures over densely populated areas and the inefficient and pollution producing idling on taxiways to reduce delay statistics.”

AirInc. members applauded the efforts of Senator Petruccelli to advance this first of its kind study and look forward to working with him and the entire political delegation, the DPH and Massport to use this study to the benefit of the people of the Commonwealth and to advance Massport’s interest in the development of a global leadership position in airport environmental justice, impact reduction and community relations.

Condon has called the study ‘groundbreaking’ and is using a new model for studying environmental impacts that polluters like large airports pose on surrounding communities.

The study was implemented as part of Senator Petruccelli’s first piece of legislation back when he was a young state representative.

In 2008 state funding for the study was threatened but Petruccelli and Representative Carlo Basile filed legislation to make Massport, who runs Logan Airport, flip the bill for the $200,000 needed to complete the study.

Already bits and pieces of the study were leaked to the media. Two years ago a rough cut of the MDPH study suggested Logan is making Eastie residents sick and killing scores of residents here and in surrounding communities.

This of course came as no surprise to people living here whom didn’t need a report to prove what Eastie residents have been saying all along. However, the new data obtained helped drive home the point.

State health data obtained by WBZ showed that compared with the statewide average; there are elevated rates of heart disease in Everett, Hull, Malden, Lynn, Medford and Saugus. Asthma rates are also higher in Boston, Chelsea, Everett, Lynn and Revere.

“But it’s what was found in the neighborhoods of East Boston that really caught the attention of Suzanne Condon of the state Health Department,” WBZ reported. “And it’s this simple fact: Lung cancer rates are higher the closer you get to the airport.”

Condon, the lead investigator, told the station that smoking is probably not the cause.

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