Los Angeles Airport to Fund Largest U.S. Study on Airport Pollution Impact on Local Community

February 25, 2008


Sean Crowley, 202-550-6524-c, scrowley@ed.org   
Flor Barajas-Tena, LAANE, 213-977-9400 x. 137, fbtena@laane.org
(Los Angeles, CA – February 25, 2008) The Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners voted today to fund the largest study in the nation examining toxic sources of pollution attributable to airport operations and the impact on nearby communities. The vote authorized the hiring of an independent expert, Jacobs Consultancy, to conduct the $2.15 million study starting in June at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
LAX is the fifth busiest airport in the world in passenger traffic and the seventh busiest in cargo. The LAX Master Plan Supplement to the Draft Environmental Impact Report concluded that “the health effects associated with these pollutants, particularly chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma, have been found to be prevalent among certain minority populations who may also have less access to healthcare.”
“We salute the board of commissioners for funding this unprecedented study to provide vitally important data to protect children who live, play and attend school near LAX,” said Laurie Kaye, a policy analyst for Environmental Defense and a member of the LAX Coalition for Economic, Environmental, and Educational Justice. “This study is the result of a very long process of drawing together experts across regulatory agencies, academics in the field of receptor modeling and air pollution monitoring, and representatives from El Segundo and the LAX Coalition.”
“This landmark decision by the Board of Airport Commissioners will enable the City to alleviate some of the worst air quality impacts on communities near LAX,” said Flor Barajas-Tena, Director of the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) and LAANE’s representative on the LAX Coalition for Economic, Environmental, and Educational Justice. “This study is an example of how community benefits can contribute to the creation of healthy communities.”
One example of the disproportionate effects of LAX on the adjacent community is Felton Elementary School in the Lennox School District. As a result of the school’s location directly beneath the flight path and a lack of airport mitigation funding over the past decade, children must sit in classrooms with no windows to protect them from the noise and air pollution.
The study is part of the historic, legally binding contract that LAWA signed three years ago this month with more than 20 school districts, labor unions, and environmental and community based groups represented by the LAX Coalition. This Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) with LAWA provided $500 million of measures to offset the impact of LAX’s $11 billion Master Plan on low income, heavily minority population areas surrounding the airport. These benefits include residential noise reduction, job training, a first-source hiring program, a living wage, a health study and green building principles. 
Finally, the CBA requires all construction equipment to be retrofitted with the best available control technology to reduce emissions. To enforce this provision, LAWA and the LAX Coalition have worked together to hire their own runway cop called the “independent third party monitor.” No other airport in the country has ever had anyone in a similar job.
To date, vehicles now retrofitted have reduced toxic particulate matter that is associated with heart attacks, irregular heartbeat, asthma attacks, reduced lung function, bronchitis, and premature death by the equivalent of 4.5 million less car miles traveled or more than nine round trips to the moon. 
Environmental Defense, a leading national nonprofit organization, represents more than 500,000 members. Since 1967, Environmental Defense has linked science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships to create breakthrough solutions to the most serious environmental problems. www.environmentaldefense.org
For a copy of the new Environmental Defense report: “Everybody Wins: Lessons from Negotiating Community Benefits Agreements in Los Angeles,” please visit www.environmentaldefense.org/everybodywins
Founded in 1993, LAANE is recognized as a national authority on issues affecting the working poor and an innovator in the fight against working poverty. Combining a vision of social justice with a practical approach to social change, LAANE has helped set in motion a broad movement based on the principle that hard work deserves fair pay, good benefits and decent working conditions. www.laane.org