Living within 10 kilometres of an airport makes people more likely to get respiratory problems and heart disease because of the pollution.
A study suggests that ground operations at airports are responsible for a tremendous amount of local ambient air pollution.
The study was carried out by researchers from Columbia University and The University of California at Berkeley.
They looked at the link between daily air pollution exposure and health for communities surrounding the 12 largest airports in California.
These airports are some of the largest sources of air pollution in the United States.
The study said that Los Angeles Airport (LAX) is the biggest carbon monoxide pollutant in California.
Six million people live within 10km (6.2 miles) of the airports.
The study found that hospital admissions for both asthma and other respiratory problems were 17 per cent higher for people living within six miles of an airport.
Admissions for heart problems were 9 per cent higher.
Older people and young babies were at most risk.
The areas close to the airports were more urban, more populated wealthier and with higher average house prices than California on average. Just like West London.
The findings, published in the Review of Economic Studies, are likely to be used by campaigners opposed to the building of a third runway at Heathrow Airport, who will argue that it will increase pollution levels.
Nick Hewitt, professor of atmospheric chemistry at Lancaster University, says in a statement:
“In the case of Heathrow, building a new runway may temporarily ease congestion but will lead to an increase in aircraft traffic, which itself will lead to an increase in pollutant emissions.”
In a statement, Kay Boycott, chief executive of Asthma UK, says:
“This research shows that air pollution from airports in California could lead to more hospital stays for people with respiratory conditions, including asthma, who live nearby.”
N.B. Image credit: wikipedia.com