Lead fuel usage not known to non-aviators

“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.”


  1. Dan says

    It is so sad that the government has such control over the fuel we use.  I laugh in disgust when I read the sign on the fuel pump, ” Enhanced with 10% Ethanol”, it should say “Degraded”, how pathetic.  What happened to Swift fuel?  Either the government or big oil killed it.  Even if you can find 93 octane auto gas without ethanol, get some of that crap on you when you are refueling and then take a 4 hour trip in your plane and let me know how you feel after breathing those fumes for that long in a closed cockpit.  We need to get the lead out and I know that private enterprise can do it if the government would do just two things and that is to prevent predators from interfering with bring these products to the market and get out of the way of free enterprise.

    You don’t like the discourse, maybe you should consider the reason for it.  We are an angry nation and that is because our government will not do it’s proper job and let us do ours.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *