Hillsboro Airport is not main producer of toxic chemicals in city’s air

No one can deny or disprove that the air we breathe contains toxic chemicals. Some of these toxins are naturally occurring in our atmosphere, but many are manmade.

A guest commentary printed in the Hillsboro Tribune (“County should steer away from ‘economic engine’ model of growth,” May 23 issue) contained numerous errors with respect to the status of the quality of the air in the city of Hillsboro.

References made in this article stated that the Hillsboro Airport was the main producer of many of the toxic chemicals found in the air. Hillsboro Airport is not the largest facility source of acrolein, butadiene, carbon monoxide or particulate matter as mentioned in this article.

Acrolein is formed from the breakdown of pollutants in outdoor air. Its main source comes from the burning of both fossil fuel (gasoline) and organic matter. Butadiene is an industrial chemical produced through the processing of petroleum and is used in the production of synthetic rubber. Studies show that motor vehicle exhaust is a constant source of 1,3-butadiene. Carbon monoxide (CO) is produced by the incomplete burning of various fuels. This includes all types of gasoline, coal, wood and natural gas.

Internal combustion engines powered by fossil fuels are the prime source of CO. Particulate matter includes inhalable fine and course particles. Primary particles are emitted directly from a source such as construction sites, unimproved roads, fields, smokestacks and all sources of fires. Secondary particles are emitted from power plants, industries and automobiles.

References to the above toxins were attributed primarily to flight training operations at the airport. This is totally an incorrect assumption. The article, while placing blame on aircraft conducting flight training, fails to state that the roadways surrounding the airport are some of the most heavily used in the city. The intersection of Brookwood and Cornell Roads see over 10,000 vehicles per day and is a primary source of pollution, and not the few aircraft in daily operation at the Hillsboro Airport.

Testimony heard at the Hillsboro Airport Roundtable Exchange, Citizen Participation Organization and articles in the Hillsboro Tribune and Hillsboro Argus claim the Hillsboro Airport is number 20 on the list of the worst airports for lead contamination. Statistical data from the EPA and DEQ do not agree with this opinion. When questioned concerning the accuracy of these statements made during open forums, no qualitative or empirical data was submitted as proof.

The Federal Aviation Administration has mandated that all aviation fuels will be unleaded as of 2018. Companies such as Shell Oil have already refined aviation fuel not containing lead and several more companies have followed suit. Aircraft can use unleaded automobile fuel but only if it does not contain ethanol. Procedures are in place to authorize its use under specified conditions.

Robert Braze


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