Ultrafine Particle Ground-Level Impacts During Aircraft Approach and Climb-out Operations at a Major Cargo Hub

WashU Affiliated Authors: Maryssa Loehr (Dept. of Energy, Environmental and Chemical Engineering), Jay Turner (Dept. of Energy, Environmental and Chemical Engineering)

Abstract: Ultrafine particles (UFP) contribute to adverse health outcomes such as asthma, obstructive pulmonary disease, cardiovascular disease, and lung cancer. Recent research draws attention to elevated ambient UFP number concentrations near airports. In this study, high time-resolution UFP measurements were conducted along public roads near Mohammad Ali International Airport (SDF; Louisville, KY) which is a commercial passenger airport and a major air cargo hub. Short-duration (∼3 h) measurements with two instrumented vehicles were designed and executed to capitalize on the distinct features of the air cargo hub including periods of high flight activity (and either all landings or all take-offs) at night and early morning when the atmospheric mixing layer depth is shallow. We present preliminary measurements for quantifying individual aircraft contributions and showcase the complexities involved in interpreting these data. For example, during periods with high arrivals frequency, UFP plumes from multiple aircraft on approach are superposed and it is challenging to apportion impacts to individual aircraft. Ground-level impacts for individual aircraft on climb-out are difficult to discern because the planes rapidly ascend above the atmospheric mixed layer height and take different flight paths soon after take-off. Elevated UFP concentrations are observed downwind of the airport, in some cases admixed with approach/climb-out emissions. Although from these data UFP concentrations are difficult to associate with specific aircraft characteristics, UFP concentrations are elevated downwind of the airport. These impacts decrease with increasing distance from the airport yet are clearly discernible at least 3 km downwind.

Citation or DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/03611981221103590