‘Crumbling paint a bigger threat’ than leaded avgas

“More lead goes into the air here at Boeing Field than anywhere else in Washington state,” says KUOW’s John Ryan reporting from Ruby Chow Park under the flight path of Seattle’s Boeing Field (BFI).

In his story on KUOW titled, “Flying The Leaded Skies: Small Planes Still Pour Lead Into America’s Air,” Ryan takes us on a journey regarding leaded fuel.

Ryan continues, “Avgas account for less than 1 percent of the nation’s liquid fuel use. Yet…belch out half of all the lead going into the nation’s air.”

The report continues at Van Asselt Elementary, just one-quarter mile from Boeing Field. Marie Lynn Miranda is an environmental health scientist and a dean at the University of Michigan. Based on research Dean Miranda has conducted in North Carolina, she’s found, “Living close to an airport can increase your blood lead level anywhere from 2 to 4 percent. That’s small. But we’re getting more and more evidence that indicates even very small amounts of lead is bad.”

In the eight-minute, forty-two-second story, this next sentence seems almost a throw-away… “Miranda says lead from crumbling paint in old buildings remains a much bigger threat to children’s health.” That sentence can be read about a 1/3 of the way into the story, yet that’s the only mention of the “much bigger threat”.

So here is what I don’t understand. Why didn’t reporter Ryan stop the reporting and attempt to tackle the  “much bigger threat”? I’ve placed a call into John Ryan to get that answer.

I’ve also emailed Dean Miranda seeking clarification on how much bigger a threat is “crumbling paint” in “old buildings.”
When I find out, I’ll let you know. If anyone out there has connections to either, I’d appreciate your passing my queries along.

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  1. fred says

    Just came across this article. So how much threat is AvGas? Well, let’s take Santa Monica Airport for example where residents live less than 300′ from the runway and 40,000 people live within 2 miles of the facility. There are 100,000 piston flight operations a year. Given that each gallon of AvGas there has about 2 grams of lead and for example if each of these planes *ONLY* burned only 1 gallon of fuel during their stop and go and box pattern flying at SMO then right there you can see that nearly a quarter TON of lead is deposited on the airport every year and unfortunately in reality at a rate of about 10 gallons per hour, is that it is much more; all deposited in a very small and highly residential area. Lead from paint is indeed the most serious source of lead poisoning, but in Santa Monica at least, the lead produced from private planes are an ongoing, still accumulating and most dangerous treat to health.

  2. Kent Misegades says

    Good point Ben, but this reveals the reality that we lost this debate with the public and the media a long, long time ago.   There are technical solutions available today to wean us off nearly all leaded Avgas.   Let’s get moving now with a transition to premium autogas to demonstrate to the public that we take their concerns seriously.  Remember too that pilots of louder aircraft once thumbed their noses at people who complained about noise, then later found their airports turned into shopping malls when the public turned against them.

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