Suffolk: Living under flightpaths could be a risk to health

PEOPLE in Suffolk could be living under a pollution timebomb which could harm their health, it was revealed today.

Latest research shows that exhaust emissions from jet planes are littering the atmosphere with a concoction of chemicals and particles which could cause a wide range of illnesses – some of which could kill.

With thousands of passenger planes flying across Suffolk’s skies every week there is concern over the potential for danger to health in the years ahead – especially so if air traffic increases as forecast.

Research done in America says jet planes are emitting a range of pollution, including nitrogen oxide, highly-dangerous particulate matter, which can all harm health, and CO2, which has serious repercussions for climate change.

The World Health Organisation says there is “no safe level” of particulate matter.

Inhaling the microscopic particles over a long period can cause breathing difficulties, heart problems, inflame air passageways, harm lungs and shorten life expectancy by six months.

But today it emerged that so far no specific studies have been done on the impact on human health of aircraft exhaust emissions in the UK’s atmosphere.

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Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dan Poulter said a growing number of people – particularly youngsters – were suffering from allergies, asthma and eczema, and conditions associated with the immune system.

“It is believed this is connected with more industrialisation but there could be a connection, too, with air traffic and we don’t want to find out later that people’s health has been affected – and young people would be most at risk – because of the exhaust emissions from aircraft. We need some answers,” said Dr Poulter.

A Defra spokesman said: “Dispersion of emissions from sources occurs as a result of turbulence and the bulk movement of air in the atmosphere.

“Emissions of gases and particles from aircraft above the planetary boundary layer, which varies in height but can be from 100 to 1,500m above the ground depending on weather conditions are only slowly mixed down to ground level as there is only slow interchange of gas and particles to the troposphere.

“These emissions contribute an insignificant amount to ground level concentrations.”