Assessing the Impact of Aviation Environmental Policies on Public Health

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Aircraft emissions degrade air quality and cause adverse health effects. Here we quantify the impact of aircraft landing and takeoff emissions on air quality and public health across the contiguous United States. While the approach of using a detailed chemistry-transport model is feasible for specific policy assessments, computational requirements preclude the assessment of a wide range of policy options, quantification of uncertainty, sensitivity studies, or a timely response to policy questions. We therefore develop two surrogate modeling approaches to enable rapid assessment of the impact of aviation emissions scenarios on public health. First, we adapt an existing linearized source–receptor matrix. Second, we perform 25 Community Multiscale Air Quality (CMAQ) simulations to populate the emissions scenario space using a design of experiments approach, from which a response surface model is developed and validated. Using a 2005 aircraft emissions inventory and the response surface model developed from CMAQ model simulations, coupled with census data and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) concentration–response functions, we estimate that 210 deaths per year are attributable to aircraft emissions (90% confidence interval: 130–340), with total monetized value across mortality and morbidity of $1.4 billion per year in year 2000 U.S. dollars (90% confidence interval: $550 million–$2.8 billion). Finally, we demonstrate the application of the CMAQ-derived surrogate model in a policy context by assessing the health impacts of (i) a possible low sulfur fuel standard, and (ii) a NOx stringency regulatory intervention. Our findings demonstrate the viability of surrogate modeling approaches for health impact assessments in the aviation sector.


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