Spatial Differences and Costs of Emissions at U.S. Airport Hubs

Matthew J. Nahlik, Mikhail Chester, Megan S. Ryerson, Andrew Fraser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


As local governments plan to expand airport infrastructure and build air service, monetized estimates of damages from air pollution are important for balancing environmental impacts. While it is well-known that aircraft emissions near airports directly affect nearby populations, it is less clear how the airport-specific aircraft operations and impacts result in monetized damages to human health and the environment. We model aircraft and ground support equipment emissions at major U.S. airports and estimate the monetized human health and environmental damages of near airport (within 60 miles) emissions. County-specific unit damage costs for PM, SOx, NOx, and VOCs and damage valuations for CO and CO2 are used along with aircraft emissions estimations at airports to determine impacts. We find that near-airport emissions at major U.S. airports caused a total of $1.9 billion in damages in 2013, with airports contributing between $720 thousand and $190 million each. These damages vary by airport from $1 to $9 per seat per one-way flight and costs per passenger are often greater than airport charges levied on airlines for infrastructure use. As the U.S. aviation system grows, it is possible to minimize human and environmental costs by shifting aircraft technologies and expanding service into airports where fewer impacts are likely to occur.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4149-4158
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number8
StatePublished - May 3 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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