Aviation Pollution… Is that a thing?

With more than 87,000 flights in the United States per day, this industry is definitely one of the busiest industries not only in the US but also in the world. From I was in high school I wondered about the impacts that aviation had on the environment that we live in and I’ve asked myself the question “Is it doing more harm than good?” I have been getting into sustainability more recently, that I could not resist but to research how my profession is having an impact on the environment I am living in!

Although the aviation industry is of much convenience to the human race as it provides an efficient means of transportation, it also has a negative effect on the environment we live in. Aviation pollution has been prevalent since the birth of aviation and has been growing exponentially throughout the years. I have come to realize that aviation activities pollute the environment both directly and indirectly mainly in the forms of air and noise pollution. One of the primary ways in which pollute the air is by jet exhaust. Jets burn large amounts of toxic fuel, which produces carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, sulfates and other emission particles. These gases are also harmful greenhouse gases which contributes to the heating of the atmosphere. These particles are directly emitted into the atmosphere and as a result encourage global warming.  The emission of smoke from jet engines also has a negative effect on humans. The soot/ black carbon that are emitted from planes can cause respiratory illnesses in humans. The particles are so small that when inhaled can penetrate in the lungs and other organs in the body. The damage that it can cause to the respiratory system includes chronic bronchitis, aggravated asthma and can also lead to the difficulty breathing. Some people argue the fact that soot also has a negative effect on climate change. Although I am not sure how true this may be it is said that he dark color of soot attracts and absorbs heat from the sunlight which causes atmospheric temperature to rise.

A more prominent issue that is widely spoken of in the aviation industry is the problem of aviation noise. Residents living in the communities around airports often complain about the effect of the noise created from the blasts of aircraft, aircraft flight paths/ approaches, and land uses around airports. Loud noises coming from aircraft can cause hearing impairment, annoyance and sleep disturbance to people living in communities around an airport.  To reduce the impact of aviation noise on communities many noise abatement procedures are being initiated to make the environment safer. Some airports have regulations that prohibit aircraft from landing after a certain time at night, this is done to reduce the number of sleep disturbances in the surrounding communities. Many flight training airports, especially in Florida, implement noise abatement procedures for training aircraft and I have done some of those procedures myself.

I ultimately believe that aviation pollution is something we cannot get rid of, but we can certainly reduce the impact that it may have on our earth!


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