Many Newport Beach residents have long wondered if the fine black grit that seems constantly to end up on their windows and patio furniture has anything to do with the jets taking off and landing at nearby John Wayne Airport.
Until recently, technology that could gauge the amount of jet fuel emissions that come from the airport has not existed, said Newport Beach City Councilwoman Leslie Daigle.
Now city officials believe it’s possible to measure pollution from John Wayne Airport and determine whether it is harmful to residents. The city recently commissioned an air quality study to do just that.
“The environmental impacts related to JWA are the most significant threat to the quality of life for Newport Beach residents,” Daigle said. “The strategies of the city and community advocacy groups revolve around trying to control those impacts.”
The study will involve taking air samples from six different locations around the city to determine whether aircraft emissions from John Wayne Airport pose any health risk to Newport Beach residents.
Preliminary estimates put the cost of the study at about $58,900.
City officials hope the results will be available by early 2010.
Melinda Seely, president of the John Wayne Airport watchdog group AirFair, said the group is pleased the city is making airport issues a priority.
“We owe a big debt of gratitude to the city and the City Council for forging ahead with this,” Seely said.
“Of course, with the economy on everyone’s mind, it’s a difficult decision to go ahead with this, but it’s very gratifying that the City Council and City Manager Homer Bludau are prioritizing this and putting John Wayne Airport right up at the top of their thoughts and plans for the future.”
John Wayne Airport is not participating in the Newport Beach air quality study, but airport officials have expressed that they are willing to cooperate with the city, airport spokeswoman Jenny Wedge said.
“We have let them know that if they need any information from the airport for the study, we’d be happy to provide it,” Wedge said.
John Wayne Airport served about 8.9 million passengers in 2008.
There were 267,751 takeoffs and landings at John Wayne in 2008.
There are 10 commercial air carriers that fly out of John Wayne Airport, as well as three commuter carriers and two all-cargo carriers.