Massport to Fight Neighborhood Asthma with Community Health Groups


Authority Embraces Seminal DPH Study Recommendations


BOSTON – The Massachusetts Port Authority will work with the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center and other health centers and the state Department of Public Health to support respiratory health in neighborhoods. The initiative, which comes out of a ground-breaking study by the state Department of Public Health, will include asthma screening for residents and working with the DPH and local health organizations to provide home health kits.

The 14-year study, which is the first of its kind to use airport data on emissions, flight tracks, noise, wind and weather, and combine that with 2005 telephone survey information from more than 6000 residents within five miles of Boston Logan International Airport. The study found no adverse cardiac or hearing health issues related to airport activity. The study did detect some elevations in respiratory issues in the population that lives closest to Logan, specifically probable asthma in children, and COPD in adults who lived in the high exposure area for more than three years.

Studies have found that Logan contributes one percent or less of the carbon monoxide and particulate matter that is found in urban areas, and the airport-generated emissions are mostly concentrated near the airport perimeter and rapidly dissipate.

“While Logan contributes a modest amount of emissions into the neighboring urban environment, we want to be part of the solution, not the problem,’’ said Massport CEO Thomas P. Glynn. “We appreciate the work done by DPH and we will work with the agency and local health organizations such as the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, and other neighborhood health centers to make sure residents are screened, educated and have tools to reduce respiratory irritants in their homes.’’

In the coming days, Massport, which owns and operates Boston Logan, will work with officials and health groups to formalize the outreach and prevention efforts now that the study findings are public.

Massport supports the DPH findings, and has contacted and is meeting with neighborhood health centers to develop community-specific partnerships to address local needs. The partnerships will include:

  • Health Centers conducting a needs assessment survey to determine cases of adult COPD and cases of pediatric asthma
  • Based on the needs assessments, development of targeted strategies that could include healthcare provision by nurse practitioners, home visits and education by case managers and community health workers, healthy home kit distribution, tracking of care and referrals as needed.

 

Since the study launch in 2000, Massport has worked with other airports, airlines and the FAA to improve conditions and Massport continues to develop programs that reduce emissions. Some of the notable changes include a significant drop in the number of flights annually at Logan, even as passenger numbers climb. In 1998, there were 507,000 flights in and out of Logan, last year there were 361,000 and today’s fleet is cleaner and quieter than ever, with dramatic reductions in emissions and noise.

 

Other large-scale Massport-specific initiatives include:

  • The $310 million Rental Car Center and $60 million new clean fuel bus fleet has reduced rental bus emissions by more than 70 percent and reduced hourly bus trips from 100 to 30.
  • Massport spent $27 million putting ground power units and pre-conditioned air units at 88 Logan jet bridges, reducing emissions since parked aircraft are not powered and cooled by diesel power auxiliary power units or jet engines.
  • Aircraft one engine taxi in and taxi out procedures, are encouraged by  Massport
  • Construction of the new $25 million Coughlin Bypass Road is designed to take airport-related traffic out of Day Square.
  • Massport continues to work to reduce airport-related emissions through promotion of HOV and public transportation, including subsidizing the Silver Line with free service inbound to Boston, providing bus service to and from four suburban locations and now the Back Bay.
  • Boston Logan has a large CNG (cleaner burning natural gas) filling station, which services about 100 vehicles each day, 75 percent of which are based on the airport. The station has distributed more than 11 million gallons of CNG.

Indeed, the DPH study noted the work Massport has done to reduce air pollution impacts and the Authority will work to continue such initiatives.

Boston Logan, 15 minutes from the intersection of Route 128 and I-90 and five minutes from downtown Boston, serves as the gateway to the New England region and offers nonstop service to 76 domestic and 39 international destinations and in 2013 handled 30.2 million passengers. Boston Logan is served by two public transit lines and is the Air Line Pilot Association’s Airport of the Year for 2008 because of its commitment to safety. Over the past decade, the airport spent $4.5 billion on a modernization program that includes new terminals, public transportation access, parking facilities, roadways and airport concessions, and has been transformed into a world-class 21st Century facility.  The airport generates $7 billion in total economic impact each year.

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The Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) owns and operates Boston Logan International Airport, public terminals in the Port of Boston, Hanscom Field and Worcester Regional Airport. Massport is a financially self-sustaining public authority whose premier transportation facilities generate more than $8 billion annually, and enhance and enable economic growth and vitality in New England. No state tax dollars are used to fund operations or capital improvements at Massport facilities.  For more information please visit massport.com.