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Keywords:

  • Aircraft;
  • CMAQ;
  • mortality;
  • particulate matter

Demand for air travel is projected to increase in the upcoming years, with a corresponding influence on emissions, air quality, and public health. The trajectory of health impacts would be influenced by not just emissions growth, but also changes in nonaviation ambient concentrations that influence secondary fine particulate matter (PM2.5) formation, population growth and aging, and potential shifts in PM2.5 concentration-response functions (CRFs). However, studies to date have not systematically evaluated the individual and joint contributions of these factors to health risk trajectories. In this study, we simulated emissions during landing and takeoff from aircraft at 99 airports across the United States for 2005 and for a 2025 flight activity projection scenario. We applied the Community Multiscale Air Quality (CMAQ) model with the Speciated Modeled Attainment Test (SMAT) to determine the contributions of these emissions to ambient concentrations, including scenarios with 2025 aircraft emissions and 2005 nonaviation air quality. We combined CMAQ outputs with PM2.5 mortality CRFs and population projections, and evaluated the influence of changing emissions, nonaviation concentrations, and population factors. Given these scenarios, aviation-related health impacts would increase by a factor of 6.1 from 2005 to 2025, with a factor of 2.1 attributable to emissions, a factor of 1.3 attributable to population factors, and a factor of 2.3 attributable to changing nonaviation concentrations which enhance secondary PM2.5 formation. Our study emphasizes that the public health burden of aviation emissions would be significantly influenced by the joint effects of flight activity increases, nonaviation concentration changes, and population growth and aging.