Summary of the Health Survey
Report authored by Brian Dumser, Ph.D., CIH
as summarized by the Winthrop AIR Environmental Health Committee
The following information includes some of the highlights of
the Health Report. References are provided to facilitate cross-checking the
information against the "Webbed" copy of the report itself.
The objective of the Winthrop Health Study
The objective of the Winthrop Health Study is to provide answers, by scientific
methods, to the following questions:
1. Does sufficient evidence exist that Logan Airport is having a negative
affect on the respiratory health of Winthrop?
2. Does that evidence justify a follow-on, in-depth study that will establish a
health profile in Winthrop and the reasons for abnormal health situations?
If the answers are "Yes" to both questions, then the
AIR Environment-Health Committee would enlist the aid of the Massachusetts
Department of Public Health to conduct a study of greater scope.
|The Study concludes that the answer to both questions is
The Environment-Health Committee, with the Board
of Health, began working with the Mass
DPH on January 6, 2000. For a status report, contact
us via E-Mail.
Method of Study
The Health Study was conducted using a technique called 'spatial location'. The
town of Winthrop was divided up into ten areas of varying distance from Logan
Airport. Then interviews focusing on respiratory information were conducted,
beginning with the areas closest (Court Road and Cottage Park) and the area
farthest from Logan (Highlands). Data analysis showed that indeed serious
differences do exist between the close and distant areas.
Why Winthrop is "Special"
Air in most urban settings is polluted by a variety of sources. Vehicular
Traffic and power generating plants are the obvious localized contributors.
Winthrop has no pollution sources, other than Logan Airport. There are no
highways, parking lots, or power plants; the only roads "through" the
town are at its very edge and carry mostly Winthrop residents. In addition,
Winthrop is a seaside community, bathed in the breezes of the Atlantic Ocean;
any polluted air from Boston is rapidly diffused. Without Logan Airport,
there would be no meaningful pollution sources and a constant refreshing of the
air. For those reasons, Winthrop is unique, and makes an excellent laboratory
for the study of Logan's impact.
About scientific proof:
When any experiment or data analysis is performed, it is done in search
of an answer, or "proof" that something is true. In scientific efforts
like the Winthrop Health Study, the best that can be achieved is a strong
likelihood that something is true; it is not possible to achieve absolute
'proof'. Accordingly, in order to maintain scientific integrity, we avoid using
terms like 'proof', and use instead terms like "Findings",
"Implications", "Conclusions" and "Scientific Facts".
The following terms are used to describe the report results:
Common Facts: Actual, simple, obvious facts. Examples
include "The Earth rotates around the sun" and "The Earth rotates
on its axis".
Scientific Facts: Hypotheses accepted as true, within
the realm of current knowledge. These have usually been reported in scientific
papers. An example is: "The speed of light is 300 million meters per
second". The Health Study Report refers to many pertinent Scientific Facts in its
Findings: Actual conditions, based on solid scientific
evidence, and having a strong likelihood of being true. These are the
discoveries of the Health Study. After further scientific scrutiny, they are
expected to become "Scientific Facts".
Conclusions: The results of analysis of the Findings,
Common Facts and Scientific Facts.
Implications: Logical results of the study of Findings and
Conclusions, not necessarily proven scientifically but having very strong
likelihood of correctness.
Making the Case: Facts,
Findings and Conclusions
The conclusions of the Health Study are based upon:
- Common and Scientific Facts known before the Health Study,
- The Findings of the Health Study:
"References" in the facts and Findings sections below, go to Footnote
Common and Scientific Facts known prior to the Health Study
Many "External" facts are used in the Health
Study. Here are a few. When combined with the Health Study Findings, they will
be the basis for the Study Conclusions
Published estimates (by MassPort) from modeling studies indicate approximately
50,000 pounds of airborne pollutants are released daily, primarily from
the combustion of Jet Fuel A. Reference
XR6: Webbed Health Study
correlation is known to exist between exposure to petrochemical exhaust
emissions and a variety of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.
Reference XR2 :Webbed Health Study
Winthrop is by no
means the only community impacted, nor the community most highly
impacted by airport activity-generated emissions. Reference
XR4: Webbed Health Study
residing in communities surrounding Logan airport show a considerably
higher incidence of these diseases ( a variety of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases
including lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma and
allergic rhinitis) compared to the statewide average
Reference XR8: Webbed Health Study
In Winthrop, lung cancer rates for females is
50% higher than the statewide average.
Reference XR9: Webbed Health Study
While potent arguments in favor of
Logan expansion are being
presented from an economic standpoint, once again no consideration is
being given to the possible public health impact.
XR1 Webbed Health Study
carries out no air pollution monitoring in the surrounding communities.
Reference XR6: Webbed Health Study
and Reference XR13: Webbed Health Study
are at best approximations of real conditions and subject to considerable
error. Reference XR14:
Webbed Health Study
Findings of the Health Study:
This is the information that the Health Study added
to the current body of knowledge. There are many findings in the Health
Study; here are some of them. The Health Study Findings establish the link
between Logan Airport and Health in Winthrop.
The residents of the Court Road Area will experience 319
excess cases of allergy, and 143 excess cases of asthma. (In other words,
these cases would not occur in a neighborhood far from Logan Airport.)
Reference XR15: Webbed Health Study:
Results Table 5, Last column.
The statistical significance of allergy and
asthma survey findings is very strong. Reference
XR16: Webbed Health Study
A definite correlation exists between frequency and
severity of respiratory disease and the location of people in Winthrop
relative to Logan Airport. : Reference
XR17: Webbed Health Study
The closer to Logan Airport that Winthrop's citizens live,
the more respiratory disease and symptoms they suffer.
Reference XR10 : Webbed Health Study
Within Winthrop, asthma and allergy are twice as
common in neighborhoods close to Logan, when compared to the Winthrop
neighborhood most distant from Logan.
Reference XR5: Webbed Health Study
Conclusions of the Health Study
The conclusions of the Health study are built upon the facts
and findings described above.
The Subcommittee proposes
that airport activities, most likely the generation of airborne
pollution from the combustion of gasoline and kerosene, are indeed
negatively affecting the health of the residents of Winthrop.
Reference XR3: Webbed Health Study
In brief, the study demonstrates
that serious damage is being done to the health of the residents
of Winthrop at current levels of airport activity, and this damage
correlates with location, a measure of exposure to airport
Webbed Health Study
These are strictly conjecture at this point. If the State
sponsored Health Study indeed finds that a Logan related health problem exists,
they are a few of the issues to be explored in the future.
- ...while the case can be made strongly for asthma and
allergenic disease, effects on other less common serious or life-threatening
respiratory and cardiopulmonary conditions which are also linked to fuel
exhaust exposure remain an unexplored possibility. Reference
XR12: Webbed Health Study
- Although the Study proves the impact of Logan on Winthrop,
it raises serious questions about the impact on all communities affected by
An objective in a scientific study is not the same as an
objective in what is commonly called a "Project". Where
"Projects" have a beginning and end, with clear-cut objectives (e.g.
paint the house, build a skyscraper), scientific projects seek the answer
to questions. Because they usually are exploring uncharted territory, scientific projects cannot be assigned long term
goals and cannot have pre-assigned time constraints. Instead, scientific studies
on-going process, where each step is generated by the step(s) before it. Return
Footnote 2: References to
support the "Facts" and "Findings" statements are provided
in the form of links to the "Webbed Health Study". To check out
the references click on the links. When you get to the targeted location,
it will be marked with the symbol <XR#>,
where the # is the Reference Number. To return to this page, use the
"Back" button on your Web Browser.
Your web browser may not support linking
to places within documents. If this is true, you will go to a random place
in the "Webbed Health Study". Go to the top of the "Webbed
Health Study", and you'll find a link to a table of External
References. Then click the Reference you want.
Return to "Making The