Levels of fine particles are as high in the suburban areas around Brussels Airport as they are in the city centre, according to research carried out by the Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO).
Fine particles, measuring less than 0.1 millionths of a metre, are a particularly onerous form of air pollution, largely caused by diesel exhaust fumes. But airline activity is also a cause, VITO says.
The institute took measurements at eight locations in the periphery, and found average concentrations of the pollutant of between 10,000 and 20,000 particles per cubic centimetre – similar levels to those found in the city centre.
In some locations, however, levels were measured at up to seven times the average, apparently linked to the take-off and landing of aircraft. The highest levels were found on the runway itself, coinciding with take-off and landing.
“These high concentrations are of reasonably short duration, and also go down as the distance from the airport increases,” the report says.
Brussels Airport said the VITO findings were in line with those of a previous study, and also with levels measured at other European airports.
And it said measures have already been put in place to improve air quality, including electric buses to carry passengers to and from aircraft. Airlines that fly cleaner aircraft also receive a price discount for their use of the airport.
The VITO study was commissioned by Brussels Airport Company itself, as part of its Strategic Vision 2040 programme.