Ward 1 Councillor Joanne McKenna is well known for looking out for her constituents’ best interests on the streets of Beachmont and as it now turns out, officially in the air up above the neighborhood as well.
McKenna’s home and yard on Winthrop Avenue will be the site for a machine that will measure the emissions from airplanes landing and taking off from Logan Airport.
Dr. John Durant, environmental engineering professor at Tufts University, is leading the one-year study in collaboration with the Boston University School of Public Health “to better understand aviation impacts in communities near Logan Airport.”
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is funding the research that will determine air pollution (chemical pollution and noise pollution) impacts of aviation and how to mitigate pollution from those impacts.
How did Tufts and BU officials happen to choose the home of Councillor Joanne McKenna for the placement of the machine?
“We are doing a yearlong characterization of impacts near the major runways,” said Durant. “We wanted a site to the north in line with the major runway configurations, and through the Logan noise study group, I was referred to Joanne by Gina Cassetta (of the Winthrop Airport Hazards Committee).”
Durant credited McKenna for responding immediately to the request to use her home as an emissions testing site.
“Joanne volunteered and she was quite enthusiastic,” said Durant. “So we’ve installed a water-tight, weather-proof box on her residential property and putting three instruments inside that will measure three different kinds of pollution: nitrogen dioxide, black carbon, and ultra-fine particles. These are all combustion byproducts of the airplane engine, just like they come out of the tailpipe of a car.”
The testing mechanisms will be on 24 hours a day, according to Durant. Winthrop, Chelsea, and South Boston will be the other testing locations.
McKenna has been involved in regular communications with Massport during her tenure on the City Council.
“But this study just fell in my lap,” said McKenna humbly. “Tufts and BU are doing a study on the quality of the air over Beachmont and my property is one of the highest points on the hill. Gina Cassetta suggested my house for the study. They [Tufts and BU officials] came to my house a few weeks ago and thought it was a wonderful location. The machine will be in my yard for a year and test the quality and the emissions of the airplanes. It’s a great step for Beachmont. Finally we’re going to get a study to see how the emissions of the airplanes landing at and departing from Logan affect the health of Beachmont residents.”