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The Proposed Third Runway at London-Heathrow Could Become a Killer

October 17, 2012 at 11:38 AM | by | ()

We’ve mentioned the on-and-off drama regarding the expansion of the airport system over in London, but a little recap won't hurt. Some want an entirely new airport to help ease current and projected congestion while others just want to see Heathrow get bigger and badder. Those on the Heathrow expansion side of the fence just got a little bit of bad news that certainly won’t help there cause, as apparently a third runway at the airport could be dangerous.

All kinds of recently released facts and figures surrounding potential expansion plans over at London-Heathrow focus on the potential public health implications. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment have some bad news about what could happen if this kind of expansion moves forward and they’re publishing all their findings in Atmospheric Environment.

Those MIT researchers propose that right now airport emissions over in the United Kingdom probably lead to around 110 early deaths per year, and the data supports that at least 50 of them are all thanks to Heathrow. Even without an expansion at the airport—as in just the increase in flights alone—by 2030 the numbers will increase by 170 percent.

It’s not just the airplane pollution, but it’s also the way the wind blows. The other option—building a new airport over in the Thames Estuary—wouldn’t necessarily reduce pollution, but the bad air particles and other nasty bits would kind of blow the other way and not always over major population centers in and around London.

We’re not ready to say that one airport idea is better than the other as of course there are all kinds of possibilities that could change or evolve as the airport plans move forward. However, scientists—especially those at MIT—usually know what they’re talking about.

[Photo: Liberal Democrats]

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