Q So many of us in the Twin Cities live under flight paths, with airplanes at a low elevation. Do we suffer any consequences besides noise? Do we inhale fumes from exhaust or residue from fuel? Do our gardens have higher levels of toxic chemicals? Is air pollution from the airport measured? If so, where and how?
A You aren't the only one concerned. To address citizens' concerns, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency decided to study air pollution produced by planes flying in and out of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. For six months in 2006, the agency sampled air at four locations: two on airport property, and two in neighborhoods -- Wenonah School (5625 28th Av. S.) and Richfield Intermediate School (7020 12th Av. S.).
"In general, levels of what we tested for were no higher than they are at other urban areas not near the airport," said Kari Palmer, environmental research scientist at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. The agency tested for airborne compounds, called toxics, such as benzene, formaldehyde and fine particles, the kinds of pollutants you'd expect from combustion, she said. But because vehicles on roads contribute the same types of pollution, it's hard to determine the source of the toxics, Palmer said. In any case, the amount of toxics found was below the maximum accepted health benchmarks for those compounds, she added.
Palmer added that the study didn't cover all possible compounds, only known toxics that they're able to monitor. It's possible that the fumes or odors you may smell are caused by substances that were not tested. Not all odors are from compounds that are toxic.
Palmer said she wouldn't expect your vegetables to contain any more toxins than those in any other garden. The toxics they found aren't that type of pollutant. Lead is a dangerous contaminant, but the air samples didn't show levels that would pose a problem, she said.