Lisbon airport air quality warning

Ultra-fine particles affect air quality near the airport

Air quality around Lisbon airport is severely affected by ultra-fine particles from aircraft, which can endanger health, according to a new study.

The study, by researcher Margarida Lopes, published in the scientific journal “Atmospheric Pollution Research”, was developed in the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering of the Faculty of Sciences and Technology of the Nova University of Lisbon and the Centre for Research in Environment and Sustainability.

Speaking to Lusa, she explained that the study was the first to be carried out on ultra-fine particles in Portugal, and warned that, according to the latest evidence, ultra-fine particles are more toxic than other particles humans are subjected to.

“They are quite harmful to the lungs but they also pass into the bloodstream and then reach any part of the body,” Margarida Lopes said, explaining the studies on ultra-fine particles, which also exist in nature, but are not harmful, only began in the last two decades.

According to the results of the research, she said, the particles affect people in the area of Lisbon airport, but not in the same way, because the wind scatters the particles, which means that the same receptors always receive them.

“It is very bad at the airport,” she said, explaining that there are also high concentrations in the Campo Grande area and high concentrations when the planes pass by on their landing path. And there are international studies, she said, which indicate that the concentration of ultrafine particles in airport waiting lounges is very bad.

According to a summary of the research, to which Lusa had access, the sampling for the study took place between July 2017 and May 2018, and the ultra-fine particles are 18 to 26 times higher in areas influenced by air movements.

Ultra-fine particles (700 times smaller than a hair strand) are not monitored and do not have a legally established limit value. They enter the body when we breathe, but also through the skin and by ingestion and can even damage intracellular proteins, the study stated, which also warns that particles have also been associated with neurological diseases and problems in the fetal and cognitive development of children.

It is also said that measurements taken at the Amoreiras area, on the landing path of aircraft, showed an increase in the average values of ultra-fine particles during the period of flights about 16 times higher than the times when aircraft do not pass through.

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