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Anti-Airport Group Asks Residents to Get Genetically Tested for Jet Pollution Study
By Niki Cervantes
August 1, 2017 -- A group trying to shut Santa Monica Airport as a pollution hazard is asking neighboring residents to seek testing for genetic vulnerabilities as part of an independent health study on jet fuel emissions.
No Jets, based in West L.A., is asking residents in the proximity to SMO to seek genetic testing for an in-depth review of the health impact of ultra-fine particulates from jet fuel.
Alan Levenson, head of No Jets, said the testing is available online at several sites, such as ancestry.com and others, which trace not just family trees but provide insights into physical vulnerabilities to a wide range of medical conditions.
Scientific studies have documented the health hazards related to living close to airports, particularly sprawling Los Angeles International Airport. But Levenson said his organization wants to specifically document the health issues for those living and/or working near SMO.
His group has much anecdotal information, but still lacks the wealth of statistical data it needs to make a case for shuttering SMO as soon as possible he said.
“To me it seems obvious airports make people sick,” Levenson said. “The evidence is out there.”
Aside from jet noise, residents in the areas surrounding SMO have long complained of the fumes and particulates from fuel used for charter jets.
Although SMO is home mostly to leisure pilots, its use for chartered jets began to soar after the City, responding to a federal court, lifted a noise-related ban in 1981.
“The flood gates opened to private jets at SMO,” Martin Rubin of Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution (CRAAP) has said of the decision, adding that jet traffic has increased 1,800 percent.
An estimated 130,000 people in Santa Monica and West Los Angeles live within two miles of the air field. Some live only 300 feet away from the runway.
Levenson said his group has no faith the City will act on behalf of the health of residents in the wake of the “consent decree” it reached with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in January ("City, FAA Agree to Close Santa Monica Airport in 2028," January 28, 2017).
The pact will lead to the closure of SMO at the end of 2028 and halts years of expensive litigation with the FAA.
It also cleared the way for the City to start to reduce the sole runway by about a third -- resulting in a dramatic reduction in jet traffic ("Santa Monica Airport Runway Reduction Returns to Council," May 22, 2017).
Levenson said his group was inspired to keep fighting for quicker closure of SMO by the work of a grassroots group in Seattle called Flight Pattern Kids.
It was started by adults who grew up in the flight path for Seattle–Tacoma International (or Sea-Tac) Airport
A letter to a port commissioner there said those in the group -- more than a thousand -- "are all experiencing illnesses which relate back to damage to their cells with onset of immune disease and now cancer."
Levenson said experts are to analyze the data collected from members, and that his hope is that people in Santa Monica and West L.A. can become “the SMO branch of the study.”
No Jets also is asking residents to write and/or email the City to protest violations at SMO of the noise ordinance and ground repeat offenders.
"Fines are clearly not enough, and grounding is the only language they understand," Levenson said.
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