Airport workers asking Sacramento to mandate airlines report jet fuel emissions

Sid Garcia Image
Wednesday, June 5, 2024
Airport workers call for airlines to report jet fuel emissions
A new study has detailed the health effects of jet fuel emissions on airport workers and people living near an airport or flight path.

SOUTH GATE, Calif. (KABC) -- A new study has detailed the health effects of jet fuel emissions on airport workers and people living near an airport or flight path.

On Tuesday, SEIU United Service Workers West gathered in South Gate with their union leadership to discuss how jet fuel and other emissions affect their health.

They released a study which they say shows workers at airports have higher levels of respiratory illnesses, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, also known as COPD.

Jovan Houston is a union airport worker at Los Angeles International Airport. She said she was diagnosed with COPD.

"I got it through LAX, breathing on the jetway, just breathing fumes daily," she said.

The study also shows the negative health effects for people who live along the flight path of LAX.

In January 2020, a Delta jet heading to LAX dumped fuel over Cudahy. Children and adults at Park Avenue School felt the ill effects of the fuel that landed on campus and the surrounding neighborhood.

Residents, the Federal Aviation Administration and Delta Airlines are asking whether a fuel dump over a populated area was necessary.

Saul Trujillo remembers that day very well.

"Four years ago, I was here passing by. Next thing I know a plane passes by, drops off gas," he recalled. "We called and we say 'Hey there's a bunch of fumes in the air. We don't know what's going on. It smells funky.' We don't appreciate that, so we trying to up the regulations on the airplane."

That's what the union workers are asking for.

"We're asking for in Sacramento, especially the California Air Resources Board, is to mandate that the airline industry start to report their emissions," said David Huerta, president of the SEIU-USWW Local.

In a statement to Eyewitness News, the California Air Resources Board said:

"Airport workers are right to be concerned about their exposure to a variety of pollutants. Unfortunately, requiring the use of (sustainable aviation fuel) will likely not address many of their health issues. Although SAF has been demonstrated to reduce some particulate matter, we are not aware that it reduces toxics exposure or ultrafine particulate emissions."

"CARB is exploring various means of regulating and reducing air pollutants at airports and other high traffic areas (airports, ports, railyards, warehouses) which generate pollution from a number of mobile and stationary sources."