For a century Eastie has played host to Logan Airport, a significant source of noise and air pollution to the surrounding communities. According to studies, exposure to degraded air quality is responsible for 1 in 8 deaths globally, and in the United States air pollution accounts for approximately three times as many deaths as drug overdose and six times as many deaths as traffic accidents annually. These deaths are concentrated in communities near major sources of fuel combustion.
The neighborhood’s “Godmother of Environmental Justice”, the late Mary Ellen Welch, had for decades tried to force Massport to measure ultrafine particles or PMs.
Welch long argued that the airport’s runway and roadside operations pose too much of an environmental impact on the neighborhood not to be considered when Massport files environmental impact statements or operations reports.
PMs from car exhaust and jet aircraft have been shown to cause a wide array of adverse health impacts.
Last week, Massport joined Eastie’s elected officials to celebrate a new grant that aims to curb carbon emissions from airport related traffic and roadside operations that pollute our air.
Massport recently received a Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) grant to support planning and facilitating the transition to more electric vehicles (EVs) at Logan.
Getting more passengers in an electric vehicle is an important step as Massport moves toward becoming Net Zero by 2031.
According to Massport the grant comes from MassCEC’s Accelerating Clean Transportation for All (ACT4All) Program. ACT4All aims to equitably increase access to clean transportation across the Commonwealth, reduce emissions in overburdened areas, and build effective community partnerships. The Department of Energy Resources has contributed to program funding.
“Offering EVs through rentals and rideshares will catalyze the adoption of EVs and help us achieve our clean transportation and emissions reduction goals,” said MassCEC CEO Jen Daloisio. “The growing deployment of EVs at Logan Airport and accompanying infrastructure will both help to educate consumers and begin to reduce emissions in surrounding communities. MassCEC is proud to support this innovative program.”
In 2019, there were more than 1.3 million rental car transactions at Logan and 2022 is trending to near 1 million transactions. Today, passengers at Logan can rent more than 200 EVs from the Rental Car Center, or choose an EV option from Uber or Lyft. By renting an EV, passengers can see for themselves how easy these are to use and reduce fear about charging the vehicle.
The demand at Logan Airport for more EV charging both landside and airside continues to increase. Massport has more than 40 chargers landside available for the public, in our parking garages and Ride App and taxi pools. These chargers are funded through Massport’s capital budget as well as grant funding.
For those driving their own EV to Logan, there are 173 hybrid, electric, and alternative fuel only parking spaces available and charging ports are located conveniently near the terminals with no cost for electricity use. Massport is also working to transition its own fleet to EVs, and recently ordered 2 electric Ford F-150 trucks and 2 electric Ford Transit vans for use at Logan Airport.
“Shifting to electric vehicles is a crucial step toward improving air quality for East Boston and other airport adjacent communities and reducing the carbon footprint overall,” said State Senator Lydia Edwards. “I applaud Massport and the MassCEC for their efforts toward expanding sustainable ride options at Logan.”
At last week’s event, the speakers acknowledged the airport’s proximity to surrounding communities and how their ongoing efforts would reduce emissions for all. Hertz’ SVP of Operations Initiatives Jeff Nieman said his company already had 1,000 EVs in the Boston region, and Michael Chisolm, Lyft’s business development manager of airports, reiterated his company’s commitment to use EVs exclusively by 2030.
“Increasing the adoption of electric vehicles at Logan is another big step toward improving quality of life in neighboring communities,” said State Representative Adrian Madaro. “Thank you to MassCEC and Massport for their collaboration in transitioning our city toward environmentally-friendly transportation.”
In 2013, the Rental Car Center, a LEED Gold certified building with rooftop solar, was completed and consolidated multiple rental car company operations into one location. This move allowed Massport to cut hundreds of shuttle bus trips daily, reduce emissions and roadway congestion, and create a better experience for passengers renting vehicles.
“Through partnerships with our rental car and Ride App companies, we are able to offer more environmentally friendly, on-demand transportation options for our passengers. The MassCEC grant will help us prioritize our ongoing efforts to expand electric vehicle availability at Logan Airport,” said Massport CEO Lisa Wieland. “Reducing the emissions created at Logan is not only good for the environment, it helps us to be a good neighbor to surrounding communities, while providing our passengers with the sustainable transportation options they desire.”
The large number of deaths and other health problems associated with particulate pollution was first demonstrated in the early 1970s and has been reproduced many times since. PM pollution is estimated to cause 22,000-52,000 deaths per year in the United States and 200,000 deaths per year in Europe.
The effects of inhaling particulate matter that have been widely studied in humans and animals now include asthma, lung cancer, cardiovascular issues, birth defects, and premature death. The size of the particle is a main determinant of where in the respiratory tract the particle will come to rest when inhaled. Because of their small size, particles on the order of 10 micrometers or less (PM10) can penetrate the deepest part of the lungs such as the bronchioles or alveoli. Larger particles are generally filtered in the nose and throat via cilia and mucus, but particulate matter smaller than 10 micrometers, PM10, can settle in the bronchi and lungs and cause health problems.
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that inhaling PM2.5 leads to high plaque deposits in the arteries causing cardiovascular problems. Researchers suggest that even short-term exposure at elevated concentrations could significantly contribute to heart disease and conclude that traffic car exhaust is the single most serious preventable cause of heart attack in the general public and is the cause of 7.4 percent of all heart attacks in the world.