Posted by: Green Knight | April 21, 2010

lead in aircraft fuel

this is an interesting press release. considering that military aircraft commonly jettison all residual fuel before they land, so if they crash they won’t EXPLODE, one must wonder how much lead and jet fuel aerosols we’re all breathing anyway, if we live near a base.
April 21, 2010

EPA Seeks Public Comment on Aircraft Lead Emissions Data

Agency will determine if lead in aviation gas poses threat to public health

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is requesting comment on data available for evaluating emissions and potential exposure to lead in gas used in piston-engine aircraft. Lead exposure is of special concern with young children because it puts them at risk for a wide range of health impacts, including lowered IQ and behavioral disorders.

Since 1980, U.S. lead emissions have decreased by more than 90 percent. EPA also recently issued national air quality standards for lead that are 10 times tighter than the previous standards. There is no known safe level of lead in the body. Lead emissions from aviation gasoline accounts for about half the nation’s lead inventory. There are about 20,000 airport, heliports, and similar facilities nationwide that use leaded gasoline.

The advanced notice of proposed rulemaking being announced today describes the data that are currently available and being collected that would help evaluate health impacts from piston-engine aircraft emissions. This action describes considerations regarding emission engine standards and requests comment on approaches for transitioning the piston-engine fleet to unleaded gas.

This action will be open for a 60-day comment period upon publication in the Federal Register. EPA will review comments and make a determination as to whether aircraft lead emissions cause or contribute to air pollution, which may reasonably be expected to endanger public health or welfare. By law, EPA in consultation with the Federal Aviation Administration would be required to issue standards if a positive finding were made.

More information:



  1. Do commercial and private jets also do this? Should people who live in the flight paths of municipal and international airports be checked during their annual physicals for lead levels?!? In many large urban areas, the military jets do test flights out of the same airports as the commercial and private jets. How could this practice NOT affect public health? Unfortunately, I think what this press release is suggesting is that the EPA is asking “what is an ACCEPTABLE LEVEL OF NEGATIVE AFFECT on public health … . “

  2. i’m fairly certain that it’s only military aircraft that get to do this. but everyone should be tested for lead anyway, due to the numerous sources out there.

  3. Wow, I wrote this a year ago and am still getting hits on it! Somebody should get funding to test soil around airports, and compare ones with military bases vs. those without.

  4. Also, it’s not a bad idea to get tested for lead once a year anyway, and it isn’t just urban dwellers. Think of the peeling paint on the windows and wraparound porches of old farmhouses and barns. The problem is more concentrated in cities, but can be severe but localized in rural areas as well.

    Some health insurance plans, like Healthcare USA, offer free testing for anyone in their programs (they’re just the only one I’m aware of). Also, some local health departments offer it, mainly for kids, but no harm in asking.

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