In 2003, Friends of the Earth petitioned the US EPA to get lead out of
aviation gasoline. While there had been much discussion about
taking lead out of racing vehicle gasoline, aviation gasoline
actually releases much more lead into the environment than
Eight years later, the EPA
might be getting close to doing something about it. The EPA has
been monitoring lead emissions around airports for several years,
and upgraded that monitoring on December 14,
2010. In the spring of 2010, the EPA published an
"Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Lead Emissions from
Piston-Engine Aircraft Using Leaded Aviation Gasoline." Under
the Federal Register Notice, published April 28,
2010, the public comment period was set to end on June 28,
2010. The comment period was extended an additional 60 days until
August 27, 2010, and the comments have been under study ever
Approximately 14.6 billion gallons of leaded avgas were
consumed between 1970 and 2007, emitting approximately 34,000 tons
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
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.
Canada still allows lead in aviation gasoline, despite its impact
on people near airports. Lead emissions from airplanes and their
fuel aren't even reported through the National Pollutant
Release Inventory. (Airports only report the chemicals that they
use, not what the airlines or private pilots use.) Have I missed
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