FACT:  Lead emitted from aircraft using leaded aviation gasoline (avgas) is
    currently the largest source of lead in air in the United States, constituting about
    50% of lead emissions in the 2005 National Emissions Inventory [U.S. Environmental
    Protection Agency (EPA) 2010].

    Lead is a harmful and toxic chemical that causes a broad range of adverse health
    effects when absorbed by the body. These include damage to the central nervous
    system, cardiovascular function, kidneys, immune system, and red blood cells.
    Children are particularly vulnerable to lead exposure, in part because they are
    more likely to ingest lead and in part because their developing bodies are more
    sensitive to the effects of lead. No amount of lead exposure is safe.

    It has been more than 14 years since the U.S. EPA required the complete
    phase-out of lead in automobile gasoline. When finally closing the books on
    leaded auto gasoline in 1996, the Administrator of the EPA recognized, “the
    elimination of lead from gas is one of the great environmental achievements of
    all time.” Despite this acknowledgement, general aviation aircraft fuel still
    contains lead and is the largest single source of lead emissions in the U.S.

    Leaded aviation fuel is primarily used in piston engine aircrafts, which typically
    fly in and out of small and municipal airports. The EPA has found that communities
    living near airports, children attending school near airports, and airplane pilots,
    student-trainees, and passengers are all at risk of exposure to lead emissions
    from these aircraft. The EPA also noted potential harm could come from deposits
    of lead that collect on plants in agricultural areas where piston engine planes
    are used. Source: Friends of the Earth, Dec 2010, Excerpt from Press Release

    The following information has been copied from an EPA fact sheet, available on

    Lead Emissions from Piston-Engine Aircraft

    There are almost 20,000 airport facilities in the U.S. where leaded avgas is used.
    Aviation gasoline is utilized in general aviation aircraft with piston engines, which
    are generally used for instructional flying, air taxi activities, and personal
    transportation. Lead is not used in jet fuel, the fuel utilized by most commercial

    Emissions of lead from piston-engine aircraft using leaded avgas comprise
    approximately half of the national inventory of lead emitted to air.

    EPA estimates that approximately 14.6 billion gallons of leaded avgas were
    consumed between 1970 and 2007, emitting approximately 34,000 tons of lead.

    Airport-specific lead inventories for 2008 are currently undergoing review by
    state, local and tribal authorities and will be completed in 2010.

    Lead Concentrations and Exposure to Lead from Piston-Engine Aircraft

    Lead concentrations in air increase with proximity to airports where piston-engine
    aircraft operate.

    Lead emitted in-flight is expected to disperse widely in the environment because
    lead is emitted as a small particle and can travel widely before depositing to soil,
    water, vegetation or other surfaces.

    Approximately 16 million people live within one kilometer of the approximately
    20,000 airport facilities in the U.S.

    Over 3 million children attend school within one kilometer of the approximately
    20,000 airport facilities.


    The U.S. has made tremendous progress in reducing lead concentrations in the
    outdoor air, with average concentrations of lead in air decreasing 91 percent
    between 1980 and 2008.

    Much of this dramatic improvement occurred as a result of the permanent
    phase-out of lead in motor vehicle gasoline. Reductions in the emission of lead
    have also been accomplished through controls on waste incineration and other
    stationary sources.

    Lead is a multimedia pollutant and EPA is concerned about continued emissions
    of lead to air.

    Lead that is emitted into the air can be inhaled or, after it settles out of the air,
    can be ingested. Ingestion of lead that has settled onto surfaces is the main way
    children are exposed to lead originally released into the air.

    Once in the body, lead is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and results in a
    broad range of health effects.

    Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of lead. Exposures to low levels
    of lead early in life have been linked to effects on IQ, learning, memory, and behavior.
    There is no identified safe level of lead in the body.

    On October 15, 2008, EPA substantially strengthened the national ambient air
    quality standards (NAAQS) for lead, finding that serious health effects occur at
    much lower levels of lead in blood than previously identified.

    A petition requesting the EPA to ban the use of lead in aviation fuel (avgas) was
    circulated recently by a group of concerned residents living near Santa Monica
    Airport, California. If you wish to sign the petition, please click on the link below

                        News: Sonoma Jet Center among first to offer unleaded aviation fuel


QUIET SKIES COALITION     PO Box 956     Wainscott, NY   11975