The unprecedented growth in aviation during the last years has resulted in a notable increase of local air pollution related to airports. The impacts of aviation on air quality can be extremely high particularly around airports serving remote insular regions with pristine atmospheric environments. Here we report measurements that show how the atmospheric aerosol is affected by the activity at a small airport in a remote region. More specifically, we provide measurements performed at the airport of Mytilene, Greece, a regional yet international airport that serves the entire island of Lesvos; the third largest island of the country. The measurements show that the activity during landing, taxiing and take-off of the aircrafts accounted for up to a 10-fold increase in particulate matter (PM) mass concentration in the vicinity of the airport. The number concentration of particles having diameters from 10 to 500 nm also increased from ca. 4 × 102 to 8 × 105 particles cm− 3, while the mean particle diameter decreased to 20 nm when aircrafts were present at the airport. Elemental analysis on particle samples collected simultaneously at the airport and at a remote site 3 km away, showed that the former were significantly influenced by combustion sources, and specifically from the engines of the aircrafts. Our results show that despite their small size, local airports serving remote insular regions should be considered as important air pollution hotspots, raising concerns for the exposure of the people working and leaving in their vicinities to hazardous pollutants.
- Aircraft emissions
- Airport-related pollution
- Combustion products
- Online measurements
- Particle number concentrations