December 10, 2023

An Environmental Safety Company discovering this previous week confirms what residents round small airports nationwide have shouted for many years: Leaded aviation gasoline is poison.

The lengthy overdue EPA discovering states clearly that emissions from piston-engine plane that use leaded aviation gasoline, often called avgas, are a public well being hazard. This discovering is a crucial step towards desperately wanted avgas regulation.

The Biden Administration’s EPA made the discovering after years of advocacy by Earthjustice and different organizations. The discovering was influenced by a 2021 scientific examine commissioned by Santa Clara County on dangers close to Reid-Hillview Airport in San Jose.

The county examine revealed youngsters residing close to Reid-Hillview confronted lead publicity much like what the residents of Flint, Mich., confronted throughout that metropolis’s 2014 water disaster. The EPA discovering cites the county examine quite a few occasions.

Whereas the EPA discovering is a crucial first step towards ending lead publicity from avgas, there’s nonetheless vital work forward. Subsequent, the EPA and the Federal Aviation Administration will develop new guidelines for engine-emission requirements and gas composition to scale back lead publicity.

For much too lengthy, avgas averted federal scrutiny, whereas different main merchandise that contained lead, from vehicle gasoline to color and pipes, had been closely regulated or outright banned. Avgas is the most important remaining supply of recent lead emissions, accounting for 70% of the nation’s complete in 2017.

The discovering comes 50 years after the EPA first concluded that “a good portion of the city inhabitants, notably youngsters, are overexposed to steer.” For years, the American Medical Affiliation, Facilities for Illness Management, Environmental Safety Company and World Well being Group have acknowledged there’s no protected blood lead degree in youngsters and that lead publicity can have an effect on a baby’s IQ and tutorial achievements.

The EPA took its first steps towards banning the usage of lead in the US gas provide in 1973. Leaded gasoline was utterly banned from automobiles in 1996, however a evident loophole allowed piston-engine planes to proceed to make use of avgas. In 2010, the Obama Administration’s EPA tried to shut that loophole however was thwarted after vital resistance from the aviation and petroleum industries.