City Government

Not Just Noise, F-35 Health Is In The Air

By Denise Seigart
PhD, MS, RN, Wharton Fellow
Resident of East Boise

I believe the current debate regarding the placement of F35s here in Boise is focused on the wrong issue. The noise created by these jets will indeed be intolerable and damaging to physical and mental health, but I believe this is the least of the effects we in the Boise Valley will suffer. The air pollution created by F35s will be far more damaging to the health of our citizens than the noise. According to the 2012 environmental report produced for the Boise area, F-35s can annually release these additional pollutants into the Ada County air:
F-35 emissions
-1.63 tons of Volatile Organic Compounds
-161.82 tons of Carbon Monoxide
-129.50 tons of Nitrous Oxide
-13.26 tons of Sulfur Dioxide
-3.26 tons of large particulates
-3.16 tons of small particulates
-48,725 tons of carbon dioxide

This will vary of course by the number of planes actually placed in Boise and the numbers of flights, but it is likely the pollution caused will be well above what we experience now based on existing plane traffic. While the environmental impacts are often measured on a regional scale, I think we need to ask what the local effects of these pollutants pouring into the Boise Valley will be.

Given the inversions and wildfire smoke we suffer each year, and given that Idaho in general is ranked one of the States with the poorest air quality in the nation (United Health Foundation; 2015), I find it remarkable that we are being considered at all. Atlantic County, NJ was being considered for placement of F35s, but their poor air quality was partially responsible for their rejection. I believe we can make the same argument here. As noted in a Burlington Vermont report;
“Three key pollutants in jet exhaust that are widely recognized as having a major impact on health, contributing to cancer and respiratory disease, are not addressed in the DEIS: Black carbon, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and ultrafine particles. The UCLA Medical Center study of Santa Monica Airport and EPA study of TF Green Airport in Rhode Island demonstrate the critical significance of local measurement of these pollutants in assessing the impact of airport operations.” (Endangered Health, 2013, p.12)

Boise State recently hosted Lilian Calderón-Garcidueñas, MA, MD, PhD, as a guest speaker, who also outlined the very damaging effects of these pollutants in the air.

Air pollution complex mixture exposures…. of children and teens in natural settings are characterized by early dysregulated systemic, brain, and intrathecal inflammation; production of potent vasoconstrictors and autoantibodies to key neural proteins; and perturbations in the integrity of the neurovascular unit and the nasal, olfactory, gastrointestinal, and alveolar-capillary barriers. In highly exposed children, the accumulation of misfolded hyperphosphorylated τ, α-synuclein, and β-amyloid coincides with the anatomical distribution observed in the early stages of both Alzheimer and Parkinson diseases. (Calderon-Garciduenas, Torres-Jardon, 2015)

Given the poor air quality we often have in Boise, due to the inversions and wildfires (which will likely only increase in the future), I do not believe we can accept any more pollutants into our air. The health of our population, and in particular our children, is at stake. The research connecting damaging health effects with air pollution is vast, and we need to stop sacrificing the health of our communities for financial gain. And for those of you who think only those who live near the airport will be affected, think again, it will depend on how the wind blows, how many wildfires there are, and how many inversions we have. The entire Boise area is at risk.

Say no to F35s, save our children’s lives.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Don’t you worry man. Even though each F-35 on each flight will burn approximately 300 gallons of jetfuel before leaving the ground (thus within the local air shed). St. Luke’s and St. Al’s are getting such special treatment from Mayor Bieter they’ve agreed to tell the public the massive amount of extra air pollution is harmless. In fact if you’re employed by one of these local HC monopolies they will not be happy with you for speaking out against His Highness. Local liberals love the F-35 because the Mayor told them too.

    There is a reason why the air monitoring stations are a long way from the airport. One can smell the kerosene fumes when driving past the airport.

  2. And the prevailing winds will push that air pollution back into the city.
    I am concerned that our childrens health is not taken seriously. There are schools subjected to the airport noise, and close to the flight path. They will also be subjected to the toxic airplane emissions.
    Boise Mayor has to start taking Boise’s livability literally.

  3. So we should get rid of the whole airport?
    God forbid we have more 737s with direct flights to Chicago.

    And close the freeway down too.
    No more cars!

    Do it for our children.

    If anyone is truly concerned about the health of our children, they ought to be preaching about banning Xbox and cell phones instead of a few jets.

  4. I just read your article and I have been saying the same thing to neighbors. I have been very concerned about air quality and no one until you has ever discussed this topic. I just noticed that from the fires alone, the dirt in the air and almost an oily film is left after a rain storm.
    Please send your article to the Statesman to be printed.

  5. I thank you for bringing pollution into the discussion. I have often thought that the air quality would have to be more toxic due to the amount of fuel burned on take-off and landing. I appreciate you adding another reason to be concerned and this will affect the entire valley so maybe the Mayor should think about this from the perspective of the future of Boise instead of the $$ now.

  6. chicago sam
    Mar 15, 2017, 9:27 pm

    One of the fatal flaws in burning our garbage instead of land filling it was the Dynamis smokestack. As has been pointed out previously we are just beginning to use goats to graze the hillsides above Boise. Think of them and their health and the degradation of goat meat from eating grass contaminated with those words I can’t even pronounce.

  7. Those that oppose the F-35 will be alarmed for good reason, those that favor of us having the F-35 won’t care.

    Citizens for a Livable Boise (CLB)
    [email protected]


  8. I have been saying this all along. Maybe now others will listen! I sure hope so.

  9. Concerned Neighbor
    Mar 16, 2017, 6:24 am

    I’m fully against the F35 being stationed inside a large and growing city. However, I’d really like better numbers. Tons don’t have any comparison so don’t mean anything by themselves – so can you provide the comparison (what there is today) or as a percentage increase? Or how many new asthma or early deaths we are going to suffer?

    New passenger planes are reducing pollution by about 1% a year. Turboprops burn 30% less fuel, wing tip changes save 5% or more fuel, and other ongoing enhancements keep improving our area.

  10. Looks to me from the numbers we get a net loss. I mean they all are showing a negative (“-“) value.

    Sorry couldn’t help it.

  11. Foothills Rider
    Mar 16, 2017, 9:22 am

    Dr. Seigart reminds us all that this is NOT a NIMBY issue. This is everyone’s issue who values healthy air in our valley.

  12. Military Industrial Complex
    Mar 16, 2017, 3:35 pm

    The governments job is to ensure the super wealthy and well connected get a steady supply of money so they can maintain their imperial lifestyle.

    The rich folks will rarely hear, and never suffer the effects of the fighter jets, so only a pitchforks and torches event by the rabble will change anything.

  13. Denise Seigart
    Mar 17, 2017, 10:34 am

    Thank you all for your comments–

    Here are my responses in order as to how your comments were made,

    Easterner–no response necessary, your comment is not constructive

    Patty Ely–I will submit to the Statesman

    PPSL–there are hazards to sending an article to a blog, they don’t get posted exactly as you sent them, probably due to some weird blog software issues

    Concerned neighbor–I am continuing to research the effects of the air pollution on our community, but you may want to check out the following sites;

    “Air pollution in Ada County has exceeded health standards and federal law requires us to do emissions testing of vehicles in order to keep our air quality within those standards. Vehicle emissions are one of the largest contributors of pollution. When a vehicles emissions control equipment malfunctions, the vehicle can produce 100 times, or more, pollution than it normally does. Identifying these malfunctioning vehicles and requiring them to be repaired significantly reduces vehicle pollution.”

    F35A Training Basing (2012)

    Ultimately, with the poor air quality we know we have now, why would we want to make it worse and risk the health of 1000s in our community?

  14. Concerned Neighbor, you are right to be concerned about the numbers as they are presented – they don’t provide any context. I found some context, to help compare. Compass, our regional MPO, is required to do, among other things, prepare long range transportation plans covering 20 years, and measure expected air pollution effects. Here’s the 2015 estimated daily emissions of cars & trucks in the MPO area (ada and canyon counties):

    Pollutant Mass
    PM10 81.48 tons/day ‘large particulates’
    VOC 4.04 tons/day
    NOx 6.62 tons/day

    Compare those to the estimated yearly emissions of the F35, and you’ll see that daily transportation amounts to more pollution per than the expected yearly pollution of the F-35 (for PM10 and VOC, not for NOx).

    To answer the question posed by the author, “I think we need to ask what the local effects of these pollutants pouring into the Boise Valley will be,” the answer seems to be, at most, a ~0.3% increase from what we experience today.

    The author is absolutely correct about the general bad effects of air pollution (though I don’t know/can’t comment on the biological specifics included) – air pollution is a huge issue that kills & injures thousands of people prematurely, and it’s something that I believe we should take more seriously than we already do. It’s why I’m a strong supporter of “social engineering” policies to gently encourage people out of their cars and point them to other, less polluting modes of transportation (essentially every other method is less polluting than POVs). Note that I put social engineering in quotes, because the reality is the opposite – Boise/Ada County/USA is extensively socially engineered to force people into cars above all other forms of transportation, and our incredible blindness to this reality continually shocks me.

    There are plenty of reasons good reasons to oppose the F-35 – lets not muddy the argument with a dubious claim, at best, given our current situation.

  15. Interested208
    Mar 17, 2017, 11:57 am

    I agree with concerned neighbor. There is an excellent air force base we could jointly expand for use between the USAF and the IDANG a short 30-40 minute drive away. A drive in fact that I personally know many make daily. However, please be open about comparing apples to apples. The very environmentally friendly website “Earth on the Edge” states that the average US car burns 4.7 tons of CO2 annually. So by only using this figure it appears each plane burns roughly the equivalent to 10 cars of CO2 annually using the data you shared. I sincerely hope they do not base them at Gowen but I would like more transparent data used by both sides when making arguments.

  16. Interested208
    Mar 17, 2017, 12:12 pm

    I respectfully amend my earlier comments.. I misread the data as 48 POINT … not 48 COMMA. Obviously I need younger eyes! Either way I think serious discussions need heard on true impacts and I still support moving the planes to MHAFB

  17. CJ Petrovsky
    Mar 17, 2017, 3:19 pm

    It seems clear that local politicos and business types won’t listen to any argument against the F35’s.

    I’d like to believe the AF will and hope that there will be a huge turnout (I’ll be there) for the public hearing on the EIS. We need to show up in force and hope the AF pays more attention to our concerns than our locals do.

    So simple…move it to Mt Home and the opposition goes waaaay down.

    I still don’t understand the argument that recruiting for ANG pilots suffers if it’s Mt. Home. As someone suggested here quite a while ago, it would be much cheaper to fly these people to Mt. Home once a month, if that’s true, than incur the airport upgrade costs.

    And I still want to know why the convenience of the small percentage of Boise residents who are associated w/ the ANG carries such enormous clout, when the (much larger) remainder of the population is told to shut up and live with it.

    Again, we need to make a lot of noise at the EIS hearing.

  18. Denise Seigart
    Mar 17, 2017, 10:05 pm

    Jason-I appreciate you feel that my concerns are muddying the waters–but I disagree. I repeat, the Atlantic County site in NJ was turned down due to poor air quality, and we are rated one of the worst states in the nation for air quality, so why are we even on the list of those still being considered? Any additional pollutants should be considered dangerous, we should be looking for ways to decrease, not increase our exposures. Wildfires are not factored into air quality considerations, and we do not know how mixing these with jet exhaust and inversions will affect our population, why risk it when there is a perfectly good airport just down the road?

  19. Denise, the last statement in your Friday’s post reveals much about your opinion.

    “…why risk it when there is a perfectly good airport just down the road?”.

    So you are not REALLY concerned with the jet’s pollution affecting children, are you?
    Of course, there are children living in Mtn Home as well.
    Not concerned about those children? Down-winders?

    You secretly revealed your true NIMBY opinion. Must be okay, if it happens ‘just down the road’.

    But then, Denise, you are saying Idaho’s has some of the worst air, yet you continue to live here… must be okay for all of us too, right? Based on your expert analysis of course.

    Or will you indeed relocate if Bieter is successful in hosting the F-35s? Can we get that on the record?

    Why are you intentionally endangering your own health, if you believe what you write? This air is terrible! Run!

    Imagine, the nuclear scientist living in Chernobyl saying, “This radiation stuff is already terrible and we shouldn’t add to it. But I’m staying here.”

    So, the risk/benefit must be okay.
    I’m staying, and breathing the air, right next to Denise!

    EDITOR NOTE–Despite requests from other commenters in the past, I will continue to allow Easterner to comment. He should have been a trial lawyer with his expertise at cross examination.

  20. Your Honor,
    I appreciate the great leeway you are allowing for my comments. 🙂

  21. Denise, Atlantic County NJ is listed as an EPA ‘non-attainment’ area for ozone pollution (VOCs + heat are the primary contributors to ground-level ozone). Luckily, Ada county has yet to reach non-attainment status in any of the EPA defined pollutants – but this also means a pollution argument is unlikely to sway policy-makers. I’m aware that Ada county occasionally exceeds the EPA values for particles (from wildfires), but these don’t legally count (which is another issue entirely).

    Look, I agree with you – the F-35 shouldn’t be in a highly populated area where it will have a large effect on existing population, at least not without just compensation. If you’re actually concerned about air pollution, however, F-35s are about as relevant as single drops of water in the ocean. They are simply not a significant source of pollution, and it undermines our position.

  22. Feds release noise info maps for all of us. Boise:

    Not good for airport area, EVEN WITHOUT F-35s!!

  23. Denise Seigart
    Mar 27, 2017, 9:32 am

    Easterner—You state

    “So you are not REALLY concerned with the jet’s pollution affecting children, are you?
    Of course, there are children living in Mtn Home as well.
    Not concerned about those children? Down-winders?

    You secretly revealed your true NIMBY opinion. Must be okay, if it happens ‘just down the road’.”

    I am not delusional, I understand it is a difficult fight, I am being practical–there is no way we can get rid of the pollution entirely, so I would like for it to affect as few people as possible, plus, it is my understanding that Mountain Home gets more wind than Boise, and less inversions, so hopefully less effect on the population there.

    Your argument style, Easterner, suggests you are only comfortable in an online environment where you don’t have to identify yourself so you can attack people, I will pray for you.

    Jason-it is my understanding that several people have tried to get Boise listed as a non-attainment status city for various pollutants, but they haven’t been successful (yet). I hope they keep trying. I also think it is ridiculous that wild fires do not count towards the score-esp. given that we are likely to see more of them each year. And, as I mentioned previously, the air quality measures for the jets don’t report several of the pollutants we know to be damaging.

    Can we influence the politicians? Probably not, there’s too much money involved, but I had to say something, because I do believe the air matters as much as the sound. Drops in the ocean may not seem like much, but each one counts. Look at the studies that have been done around LAX

  24. Denise Seigart
    Mar 27, 2017, 10:41 am

    From a Boise Weekly article–

    “In the decade that Courtney Washburn has lived in Boise, she has noticed one unattractive quality of the Treasure Valley: The wintertime inversions. The community conservation director for the Idaho Conservation League decided to dig into the numbers and see what was really happening when a thick haze of pollution blankets Boise.

    When Washburn and Bryan Hurlbutt—an attorney with Advocates for the West—pulled the data from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, they were shocked.

    “We weren’t surprised that the standards were being violated,” Hurlbutt said, “but we were surprised by how much.”

    ICL declared the Treasure Valley’s air quality is so bad, the Environmental Protection Agency needs to step in. But the Idaho DEQ said Washburn and Hurlbutt’s view is too narrow.

    Washburn and Hurlbutt looked at measurements of fine particulate matter air pollution, which are tiny particles that can be inhaled and cause adverse health effects. The particles come from car emissions, power plants and smoke.

    The data Washburn and Hurlbutt saw revealed a sharp increase of fine particulate matter beginning in 2011, spiking in 2012 and skyrocketing in 2013—so high that Ada County ranked fourth in the nation for amount of fine particulate matter in a 24-hour period, above Los Angeles; Salt Lake City; and Sacramento, Calif.”

  25. Drops in the Ocean
    Mar 28, 2017, 1:25 pm

    Jason, you seem to be an intelligent educated fellow. Using the praise “drops in the ocean” to describe additional pollutants as a non-issue is really an amazing indication of your lack of knowledge about just how polluted our oceans have become. Fitting considering the worst pollution events in human history have been brought to us by the smartest people. Do a bit of reading about all the pollutants each newborn has in the tissues, or contaminates found in fish, or milk, or food crops. What a very foolish philosophy to embrace.

    Bieter is not what he says he is, he can’t be. The dichotomy of wanting this very noisy fuel sucking smoke belching pig based inside city limits vs. all the idealistic “livable city” bullcrap he flaunts in lifestyle magazines. I’m sorry to say, but the only conclusion is corruption by greed and power. Indeed, our Mayor has both feet in the dark side now.

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