If high they announce a "smog alert" and tell you to skip mowing your lawn. If too high for too long, the region is declared "out of attainment" and is required to take special measures to reduce smog. The criteria pollutants aren't measured at the airport but there are measurement sites at Beacon Hill and Enunclaw. (As a result of chemistry, winds and topography, airport NOx turns into Enunclaw ozone)
NOx which includes NO and NO2
Nitrogen oxide - NO
Nitrogen dioxide - NO2
Sulfur dioxide - SO2
The things we primarily want measured at the airport and under the flight paths. Two very short term studies indicated that dangerous chemicals are above the safety levels ( a 1973 study found formaldehyde to be 750% of the safe level). The studies did not look for all the dangerous chemicals believed to be at airports. See reports and references on another site for details.
Acrolein - Respiratory system, Possible human carcinogen
Benzene - Known human carcinogen, Even worse when in the presense of other chemicals
1,3-Butadiene - cardiovascular disease, Probable human carcinogen
Carbon tetrachloride -
Dioxins - Cancer
Formaldhyde - respiratory, lung and nasopharyngeal cancer, Probable human carcinogen
Methylene Chloride - targets liver, spleen and brain in mice, Possible human carcinogen
Too many to list - site still under construction
The EPA IRIS database has fact sheets on chemicals. Cancer ratings above are from EPA database.
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We have a right to know what we are breathing.
If the airport were a manufacturing plant, we would know !