“Lead in paint has been a well known public health problem for decades and that product was banned decades ago. No news about that,” said John Ryan, a reporter for Seattle’s KUOW, when I asked why his story focused on avgas rather than the “much bigger threat” of lead paint. “I think most people outside the general aviation field would not know there is still a leaded fuel in wide use in this country,” Ryan continued. “And avgas lead is the number one source of lead in the nation’s air and with few people knowing about it, that combination makes it newsworthy in my eyes.”
He did regret not having time, beyond mentioning Sweden’s Hjelmco Oil, to discuss alternatives the industry is pursuing. Ryan did mention he’s heard from a good number of people with all sorts of opinions on the topic. Sadly, a good number of comments from the aviation community were rather inflammatory. He chalked it up to “the decline of civility in society.” I agree with him on that point.
Our conversation then steered in earnest to some of the industries options. Chief among the conversation, and a potential follow-up story for Ryan, was that of premium-grade auto fuel. He knew about the challenges of ethanol-blended auto gas but questioned the genesis of the ethanol blending. “For the best information, I’d recommend you speak with our GAfuels bloggers, but it comes from a Federal mandate in EISA 2007 which increases blending amount annually.” I told him this wasn’t just an issue for aviators. This is a challenge for lawn-care equipment, older cars, boats and more.
I do hope Ryan does a follow-up story. In fact, I offered to help put him in touch with anyone he feels could speak up on the topic from the industry. Sadly, I’m still waiting to hear back from Marie Lynn Miranda, who is the source who said “lead from crumbling paint in old buildings remains a much bigger threat to children’s health.”