12 June 2016


Impacts of Airplane Pollution on Climate Change and Health:
Despite their shiny chrome exterior, an airplane, just like a power plant or an oil refinery, is dirty. Worse still, it is an industry on the move, growing in size and pollution in leaps and bounds. The governments of the world have the opportunity to dramatically cut airplane pollution, and help the climate. But until United Airlines and other airlines clean up their operations and support common sense, low-cost emissions reduction policies, aviation pollution will just keep growing, hurting local communities and the global climate.
Airplanes achieve such extraordinary levels of energy consumption and carbon emissions by burning large quantities of toxic jet fuel. This fuel produces, in addition to carbon dioxide, NOx, sulphates, and particulate matter, all of which amplify the impact of aviation on global warming. Airplanes emit all of these pollutants directly into the atmosphere, compounding the pollutants’ warming impact. Even those innocuous-looking contrails trap heat on the Earth’s surface. The combined effect of all of these pollutants multiplies the global warming impact of aviation, making aviation currently responsible for an estimated 5% of global climate pollution.
The burning of incredible quantities of toxic fuel has impacts that extend beyond the climate. As soon as airplanes leave the gate, they begin to produce phenomenal amounts of nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide, particulate matter, and cancer-causing toxics such as benzene and formaldehyde. 3 This pollution travels miles downwind, contributing to asthma, lung and heart disease, and a large number of cancers.

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