East Boston State Rep. Adrian Madaro testified last week in front of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture on two bills he is lead sponsor on that deal with pollution emanating from Logan International Airport.
The two bills, H.968, An Act Improving Air Quality in Airport Environmental Justice Communities and H.969, An Act Establishing the Monitoring of Ultrafine Particulates are two key pieces of legislation boeing consider on Beacon Hill that aims to improve the quality of life for thousands of Eastie residents.
“I was proud to work with the committee last session on landmark Environmental Justice legislation, and look forward now to building upon this work by addressing issues affecting Environmental Justice communities,” Madaro told the committee last week. “For my district of East Boston, the focus of environmental justice is Logan Airport. As an Environmental Justice neighborhood composed of working-class, immigrant, and communities of color, we deal with a disproportionate burden of both noise and air pollution from the airport.”
Madaro argued that this air pollution has led to documented higher rates of health issues in Eastie–especially respiratory illnesses such as Asthma, COPD, and a greater susceptibility to COVID.
“Over the past several years, my office has worked with a research team at Olin College of Engineering, led by Prof. Scott Hersey, to study and address this pollution,” said Madaro. “With their recommendations, and in collaboration with advocates in our district like Mothers Out Front, and Air, Inc. this bill seeks to measure and mitigate air pollution from Logan Airport through four key pillars.”
First, the bill mandates a network of air pollution monitors throughout airport host communities
“Right now, Massport does not actually do regular real-time measuring of air pollution,” he said. “They only model, often in ways that are favorable to them. It is unacceptable that there is no real, physical monitoring of air pollution at the biggest airport in the Commonwealth. Monitors will give us data of where and when we are experiencing the most pollution, how high those levels are, and even the specific sources responsible.”
Under the bill Madaro said this data will be made available to the public in real-time, so residents are able to use it to inform their own health and activity decisions.
“The bill would also require a revised Logan Health study,” he said. “The last health study occurred in 2010. It went over-length and under-budget, and didn’t make any explicit connections between health issues and pollution. This revised health study will fill in some of those gaps.”
Madaro said through this bill he wants to begin mitigating the effects of air pollution on residents living near Logan Airport, starting with local schools.
“This legislation would require Massport to install air purifiers (HEPA filters) in all schools within 2 miles of the airport,” he said. “This is akin to a sound proofing program for noise mitigation that has made a major positive impact on our community. The COVID pandemic has recently brought to light the importance of ventilation for health in our schools, and that many schools are not adequately prepared. By providing air filtration at schools we can begin to mitigate some of the worst pollution effects on our children and their development.”
On the other bill, H.969, Madaro seeks to require that Massport monitor for ultrafine particulates (UFPs), and that DEP measure them as part of the Air Monitoring Network Plan
“UFPs are small particles that can have a big impact on human health,” he said. “Their effects are subject to increasing study and concern. Airports are a large source of UFPs, in addition to highways and other emissions. But right now these particulates aren’t being monitored by any state entity.”
By requiring UFPs to be included in the Air Monitoring Network Plan, Madaro said the state can ensure that this pollutant is being measured so the state will have a better understanding of UFPs levels in Eastie with their impacts identified and mitigated.
“These bills are the first step in a new generation of long-overdue ways of addressing issues from the airport which have plagued the people in our community for generations, ensuring our children grow up in a healthier environment,” said Madaro. “In May, my wife and I welcomed our first child, Matteo. Being a new dad has been thrilling, but it makes me worry even more about my own son’s health. I grew up in East Boston, I plan to live my whole life here. And my son is going to grow up here too. These bills are to protect him and all of the other children like him who are the future of our community.”