CBS BOSTON i-Team Reporter Joe Shortsleeve, WBZ-TV Report on Logan Airport Health Study

Joe Shortsleeve, WBZ-TV

October 26, 2010 11:22 PM

BOSTON (WBZ) — Is Logan Airport making its neighbors sick? The I-Team has learned a major public health study which will answer that question is back on track after being grounded by budget cuts last year.  Chief Correspondent Joe Shortsleeve says funding for completion of the massive controversial study will now be paid for by the airport itself.

Dim lights

The jet engines are deafening.

They are almost every three minutes. And for those who live nearby with about a thousand flights a day the health impacts of the noise and fumes from the nations sixteenth busiest airport are an everyday concern.

Gail Miller of East Boston is convinced a long anticipated massive public health study will eventually show what she has long suspected that Logan Airport is making people sick.

“In some ways we want the results and in some ways we do not want the results if you know what I mean. On my street alone almost every house has had a cancer almost every house.”

Eleven years ago experts began examining health data from the 17 communities within five miles of the Logan’s runways.

More than 6,000 people were interviewed at a cost of $2 million. The goal: find the cause to documented elevated disease rates in these cities and towns.

The real red flag is lung cancer rates. The department of public health tells the I-Team lung cancer rates are higher the closer you get to the airport and researchers say it does not appear to have anything to do with smoking.

The lead state health investigator, Suzanne Condon, explained it this way last summer.

“When we look at other smoking related cancers we do not see them consistently high in those same areas. That suggests there is something else going on that is contributing to that.”

And whatever that something else is remains unanswered.

But just as results of the decade-long study were about to be released last year funding was slashed.

But now Massport, the operator of Logan Airport, has been forced by lawmakers on Beacon Hill to make the final payment of $195,000 to finally finish it.

Speaker of the House Bob DeLoe says he began looking for answers to elevated disease rates 20 years ago as a selectman in Winthrop.

Now he predicts the answers are close and the airline industry is watching.

“This could be the pre-curser for other airports around the country around the world…in terms of what effects the airports have on the neighborhoods surrounding airports.”

So when will we see this report?

Even with funding restored, the department of public health says it will likely be a year from before conclusions are made public. But this time they say it will happen.

When asked for a comment, Massport spokesperson Matt Brelis told the I-Team, “Seeing as how the report is not final, there is nothing to comment on. Our payment to complete the report speaks for itself.”