Report: Disease Risks Higher Near Logan

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A new state Public Health Department study has found elevated levels of some respiratory diseases among residents who live near Logan International Airport.

The report released at a public meeting in Winthrop on Wednesday night found that chronic obstructive pulmonary disease was higher for adult residents who had lived near the airport for three or more years. The study also found that children living near the airport were three to four times more likely to report asthma-related symptoms.

The study, however, did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship between airport emissions and health problems.

The long-term study was based on interviews with more than 6,000 adults and more than 2,000 children in 17 communities within five miles of the airport.

The $1.8 million study found that those living close to the airport had no higher rates of heart disease or hearing loss.

"The chief takeaways are that we do see some respiratory effects associated with living in the areas of highest impact, but Logan itself represents a smaller contribution to the overall urban air pollution picture than expected," said Suzanne Condon, director of the department's Bureau of Environmental Health.

The study's authors credited the Massachusetts Port Authority, which runs the airport, for taking several measures over the past several years to reduce air pollution from airport property, including using hybrid vehicles and compressed natural gas fuels.

But it called on the agency to improve health screening for area residents to identify and treat those with respiratory issues.

"We thought it was a balanced report," said MassPort chief executive Thomas Glynn. "We want to work with the Department of Public Health and the neighborhood health centers and the physicians and hospitals to try to make sure we have the best asthma management program there is, and the same with COPD."

This article was originally published on May 29, 2014.