Blog: Winter Sunsets at SMO Can Be Toxic

When visiting SMO, bring along a gas mask.

Santa Monica Airport (SMO) pollutes the air with toxic jet emissions as well as with toxic lead from piston aircraft. Elevated levels have been measured in the downwind community and on the tarmac. The City of Santa Monica is well aware of these studies and well aware of the more than two decades of community complaints regarding the jet fumes.

When jets idle and when they take off they are gross polluters. One can be overcome by the strong kerosene-like odor coming in the open windows and doors of their homes. Jets start their engines in the start-up area and travel approximately 700 yards to the hold line and wait for clearance from the LAX tower to take off, all the while they pollute the downwind  air at and around the airport including the airport's observation decks. Piston aircraft pollute too. Piston aircraft burn leaded gasoline; the same gasoline banned for use in automobiles. Exposure to lead is especially dangerous to children. If you are interested in learning more about the toxic threat from Santa Monica Airport, I urge that you listen to the scientific testimony at:
November, 2011 CA State Senate Select Committee on Air Quality Hearing focused on the airport.

One would think that the City of Santa Monica, a city renown for efforts to be environmentally friendly, would have stepped up to the pro-active plate and demanded that this critical environmental toxic situation be dealt with. How many of us have heard about Santa Monica's efforts to ban smoking cigarettes in areas where cigarette smoke could be unhealthful? Most of us, if not all of us have. Now, how many of us have picked up a paper and read about the City of Santa Monica's efforts to even bring to light the SMO pollution elephant in the room? I haven't , and I have had my eyes and ears wide open for more than fifteen years.

So what does the City go ahead and do that slaps in the face of the community concerns regarding toxic emissions from their airport?

Last week I noticed highlighted on the Santa Monica Airport's website homepage the following:
"Come view the beautiful winter sunsets from the Santa Monica Airport's Observation Decks."

Are you kidding me? Who decides what is appropriate to post on the Santa Monica Airport's website?

Instead of a Prop 65 warning visitors to the observation deck that the air sometimes contains chemicals known to the state to cause cancer and birth defects, they entice unsuspecting people to check out the beautiful sunset from the airport's observation decks. I've been to the observation decks, and they are frequently visited by the very strong odor of jet fumes.  No thank you; I prefer to view beautiful sunsets from places with beautiful or at least acceptable air quality.

Attached to this article are photos that go along with this blog submission.

After reviewing this material and hopefully watching the testimony of the scientists, you can better make an informed decision as to Santa Monica Airport's contribution to Westside air pollution.

I strongly recommend that if you do visit the SMO observation decks, consider bringing gas masks along for each member of your entourage.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Pilot Dave February 22, 2013 at 06:05 AM
Martin Rubin, The University of Haifa, California Geo-technical Institute and Bureau of Air Resources completely dispute your data. I find it interesting you are willing to mislead the public into thinking SMO somehow pollutes, when there is evidence to the contrary. It's sad you continue spread these evil lies so some fat cat real estate developer can turn our wonderful airport into big box stores. The airport has been in operation for almost a century. Here's a great idea, don't move next to an airport if you are bothered by it. I live right next to the airport and enjoy having it literally in my back yard. There are so many lies in this article I can't begin to point them all out, but for your information Aircraft get their clearance from Santa Monica Tower, they never talk to LAX tower. Now off to Pitcairn Island!
Thorens February 22, 2013 at 07:58 AM
I can verify the truth of Mr. Rubin's comments: I live nearly a mile from the runway and the jet fumes are sickening, literally & figuratively.
Jim P February 22, 2013 at 08:25 AM
I live near Barrington and National and I sure smell the fumes and get blasted with the noise!
Greg Fry February 22, 2013 at 03:55 PM
Martin Rubin provides statistics and documentation for his well regarded articles and contributions and backs them up with links to data, including studies showing elevated lead levels at nearby schools. I see no honest documentation to support any other perspective.
GasMeUp February 22, 2013 at 04:27 PM
Great article! Resident families downwind from SMO need to consider getting tested for lead in blood levels. Not complicated; fairly inexpensive. We all need to wake up. States the U. S. Center for Disease Control: "Approximately 250,000 U.S. children aged 1-5 years have blood lead levels greater than 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood, the level at which CDC recommends public health actions be initiated. Lead poisoning can affect nearly every system in the body. Because lead poisoning often occurs with no obvious symptoms, it frequently goes unrecognized. Lead poisoning can cause learning disabilities, behavioral problems, and, at very high levels, seizures, coma, and even death." http://www.cdc.gov/lead/
stewart resmer February 22, 2013 at 04:45 PM
there is no new data here what so ever, this is an oft repeated opinion propounded by rubin, whose political stalking horse target of opportunity is the airport which has been in operation long before he was ever born and will continue long after he has departed on his own runway to the comos with his brother jerry as his astro wing man
Richard Root February 22, 2013 at 05:28 PM
Yours is typical of the worn-out rhetoric I’ve read from a FEW other pilots. The argument “The Airport was there first” is irrelevant. The argument “It doesn’t bother ME, so it shouldn’t bother YOU” is faulty logic. Then you resort to personal attacks. I guess that’s all you can do when you don’t have facts. But, it’s not helpful to either side.
fred February 22, 2013 at 05:56 PM
The facts are simple and clearly documented. Jet aircraft at Santa Monica Airport emit carbon particles, fine particulates,sulfur dioxides, and oxides of nitrogen. Prop planes at Santa Monica Airport additionally use unregulated LEAD at 2 grams per gallon of avgas which has been outlawed in automobiles for years. Given than there are over 100,000 prop flight operations and 30,000 jet operations at SMO, that is a dangerous amount of LEAD and toxic waste that WOULD NOT BE ALLOWED BY THE EPA IN A TOXIC WASTE DUMP! Unfortunately at Santa Monica Airport where 150,000 residents live within 2 miles of SMO and many as close as 200 feet, they are subjected to dangerous levels of toxic waste 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The health hazards of Jet and prop plane pollutants are also clearly documented and include chronic respiratory disease, lung cancer, heart disease, and even damage to the brain, nerves, liver, or kidneys and aggravate the the medical conditions of individuals with asthma and emphysema. Exposure to air pollution affects the lungs of growing children and can aggravate and complicate medical conditions in the elderly. Even small exposure LEAD can can developmental damage in growing children. At high levels, lead can cause permanent brain damage and even death. The Santa Monica Airport has long outlasted its usefulness and its health and environmental impacts mandate that this costly, dangerous and unsustainable facility be shut down.
Mike February 22, 2013 at 06:15 PM
To me the most difficult part of dealing with the pollution is that it's heaviest on weekends and holidays. There's no chance of using my yard on Memorial Day or Labor Day, or pretty much any Sunday, or you'll be overwhelmed by the jet fumes. And I don't live in the flight path. There are plenty of pro-airport arguments that I'll listen to and even agree with, but to bury your head in the sand and claim SMO does not pollute is complete ignorance.
Pilot Dave February 27, 2013 at 05:43 AM
I would like to warn the public of a very serious safety issue at the Airport. As mentioned in the article many of us like to go to the observation deck to look at the beautiful winter sunsets and watch the airplanes land. Before you leave the parking lot be sure to check for roofing nails, that may pop your tires. Martin Rubin and his anti airport group routinely go around to all of the parking lots at the airport and place roofing nails behind car tires. One of his henchmen was arrested for this earlier this year but the practice continues. It seems Mr. Rubin will go to any lengths to disrupt activities at SMO, even if he is putting people in harm's way.
Michael S February 27, 2013 at 09:06 PM
Please supply links for your studies. A google search does not come up with the California Geo-technical institute, The University of Haifa is in Haifa and no SMO report comes up and the Bureau of air resourses is too vague. There is a study supervised by the UCLA Department of pediatrics. I will post their key findins in the next comment.
Michael S February 27, 2013 at 09:07 PM
Key Findings 1. Airport operations, particularly jet take-offs and landing, are contributing to elevated levels of black carbon in the area surrounding Santa Monica Airport. Elevated exposure to black carbon is associated with:  increased rates of respiratory and cardiovascular disease including asthma, bronchitis, and increased risk for sudden death  irreversible decrease lung function in children  increased carcinogenic risk 2. Elevated levels of ultrafine particles (UFP) are associated with aircraft operations and jet takeoffs and are found in the area surrounding Santa Monica Airport. Elevated exposure to UFPs are associated with:  increased inflammation and blockage of blood vessels in mice models  greater lung inflammation with exposure to UFPs than exposure to larger particulates in rodent models 3. Elevated levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) are found in the area surrounding Santa Monica Airport. Exposure to PAH has been associated with:  increased carcinogenic risk  disruption of the hormonal balance in adults.  reproductive abnormalities with exposure during pregnancy  lower IQ scores in children. 4. Levels of noise due to plane and jet take-offs from Santa Monica Airport are above Federal Aviation Airport thresholds. Excessive noise is associated with:  hearing loss.  higher levels of psychological distress  impaired reading comprehension and memory among children.
Michael S February 27, 2013 at 09:07 PM
And here is the link The link is below. http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=bureau%20of%20air%20resources%20santa%20monica%20airport&source=web&cd=3&cad=rja&ved=0CD0QFjAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.healthimpactproject.org%2Fresources%2Fdocument%2FSanta-Monica-Airport.pdf&ei=P3IuUYbfCoW7iwLb-oGAAg&usg=AFQjCNFjKASYFsXeSEgMjnX6u5Yl6RvHpQ&bvm=bv.42965579,d.cGEwith
Dan Charney March 04, 2013 at 10:10 AM
Careful Pilot Dave- The developer people will label you 'snarky" - I love the airport and the last thing I want to see its the artists and small craft leave- and one more giant business park and expensive condos be built- I used to do landing with a friend who kept his Mooney 201 there on Catalina- and whenever i want to feel not smothered by what is taking over this city - I got to the Spitfire and just watch it all or walk around the galleries- they will have no idea how much exhaust and misery will come their way with all the cars and traffic the development of SMO will bring- CAVU
natalie mcadams March 28, 2013 at 01:43 PM
By the way Pilot Dave someone was arrested for the nails and it wasn't Mr Rubin so you should be very careful because accusing someone of a crime and in writing is libelous per se and is actionable in court. I used to love hanging out around the airport too until I learned about the toxicity of the fumes and that engaging in that activity was hazardous to my health. I also used to smoke cigarettes over 20 years ago but that too had to go by the wayside due to the health risks. It's time for you airport proponents to get with the times. SMO is a toxic waste dump and it is no longer okay for it to pollute the neighbors regardless of when it was built.


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