Sea-Tac Airport is one of the fastest growing airports in the nation with 3.4 million more passengers last year than in 2015. Rep. Mike Pellicciotti (D-Federal Way) has teamed with Rep. Tina Orwall (D-Des Moines) to show the negative impacts of airplane traffic in South King County. Orwall and Pellicciotti want to know to what extent the volume of air traffic at the airport is affecting communities in their districts and secured money in the new state Operating Budget to fund a UW study to find out.
“It doesn’t take an expert to tell us there are more airplanes overhead, but it does take expert studies to collect data to better hold the federal government responsible for mitigating the effect of this traffic,” said Pellicciotti, who had sought state funding for a study to determine noise, vibration, and air quality issues, including the ultrafine particulate matter, in and around his district. “This is an important first step – independent from federal regulators — to more fully examine how South King County is being affected by SeaTac Airport.”
The South King County legislators succeeded in securing $250,000 in the Operating Budget for the University of Washington to complete a study on the air quality implications of air traffic around SeaTac International Airport, including as far south as Federal Way. It’s been over 20 years since completion of a similar air study. For years, FAA airplane studies have not fully included Federal Way. Pellicciotti’s budget proviso changes that.
The UW School of Public Health will:
- Determine and map the extent of impacts in the area surrounding the airport.
- Assess the concentrations of ultrafine particulate matter in areas surrounding and directly affected by air traffic generated by the airport.
- Identify the footprint of aircraft exhaust through particle number monitoring.
- Carry out a future study of the health effects once the extent of exposure is better known.
“This is a critical first step in a full impact study to determine the effects the airport activity has on our communities,” said Orwall, whose House Bill 1171, called for a study of the environmental impacts associated with aircraft traffic, including ultrafine particulate matter air pollution. “I am relieved that we managed to get these funds because it’s only through studies of this nature that we can fully understand the health impacts and learn how to mitigate their effects.”
The university will coordinate with local governments to share results and collect feedback from community members, and will report study findings and recommendations to the legislature by December 1, 2019.
“I appreciate the support of my fellow legislators, including Rep. Kristine Reeves, Sen. Mark Miloscia, and Sen. Karen Keiser, in making sure that this important Federal Way project was included in our final operating budget,” Pellicciotti said.