Health Impacts of Aviation UFP Emissions in Europe

In this study commissioned for Transport and Environment, we have analysed the health impacts of ultrafine particle emissions of aviation on humans living around major European airports. Particulate emissions from aviation, and especially emissions of ultrafine particles, have harmful effects on human health. These particles have a proven relation with various forms of cancer, heart diseases, long disease COPD and other diseases of the respiratory system. So far, there are no comprehensive studies available of the health impact of aviation ultrafine particulate emissions in Europe.

This report provides a crude first order estimation of what the health effects caused by aviation-related ultrafine particles in Europe could be. The analysis estimates that aviation ultrafine particles possibly causes a total of nearly 280,000 cases of high blood pressure, 330,000 cases of diabetes and 18,000 additional cases of dementia around the 32 major airports in Europe, based on current population and ultrafine particle concentration levels. However, these values should be interpreted with caution and should be confirmed by epidemiologic studies.

An import source of aviation’s ultrafine particle emissions are the impurities in jet fuel. Hence, the emission of ultrafine particles by can be reduced in two ways, namely by refining fossil fuels to remove the emission generating chemicals (hydrotreatment), and by increasing the use of sustainable aviation fuels, which have naturally lower impurities. The analysis concludes that up to 71% of the ultrafine particles could be abated by these measures.


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