Optimistically that President Joe Biden’s government will take action to address the country’s largest remaining source of lead emissions in the air, the Coalition of Environmental Advocacy Groups joined forces with Santa Clara County, California on Tuesday to urge the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to classify lead. Aviation gasoline air pollution endangers public health and the environment. The EPA’s findings on this matter will allow the federal government to propose regulatory standards to address the hazards caused by highly toxic additives in aviation fuel.

For nearly two decades, environmental advocates have been asking EPA to make this decision, the so-called hazard investigation result.They believe that, given decades of scientific evidence, this initiative is long overdue. The hazards of lead exposure, Especially children.

“It is unreasonable to think about the hundreds of thousands of children who have been exposed to lead due to airport activities over the years,” said Jonathan Smith, a senior attorney for Earth Justice, a non-profit organization representing Friends of the Earth. The original petitioners to EPA, as well as Oregon Aviation Watch, Montgomery-Gibbs Environmental Alliance, Environmental Health Center, and Alaska Toxic Substances Community Initiative. (Disclosure: Earthjustice is Grist’s advertiser. Advertisers have no role in Grist’s editorial decisions.)

In a letter submitted to EPA Administrator Michael Regan accompanying the petition, these organizations believe that the discharge of leaded aviation gasoline has exacerbated the environmental injustice faced by children of color, who have suffered disproportionately from exposure to chemicals Burden.Black children bear a disproportionate burden of lead exposure across the country, while Latino children are California is overburdenedThe letter stated that most of the 50 general aviation airports with the highest lead emissions are located in communities of color.The Biden administration has pledged to prioritize environmental justice issues and Reduce children’s lead exposureThe league hopes that these promises will allow Reagan to accept their call to action.

“Lead poisoning is widely regarded as an environmental justice issue,” Smith said. “Therefore, we do call on the Biden administration to recognize this… and prioritize it as an environmental justice issue.”

According to the “Clean Air Act”, the EPA regulates aircraft emissions and the use of lead in gasoline, including automotive gasoline additives, which have been gradually reduced since the 1970s.The agency subsequently Prohibition of the sale of leaded gasoline It was used in road vehicles in 1996, but it allowed the continued use of lead in aviation fuel, called avgas.This leaded fuel is used in the estimated 170,000 piston engine aircraft used nationwide, including airplanes and helicopters, whose operating hours exceed 13,000 airportsAccording to 2017 data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, these small gasoline-powered general aviation aircraft are the largest single lead air emission source in the United States, generating 468 tons of emissions that year. Authorized by Congress, they account for about 70% of the country’s total lead air emissions report Released by the National Academy of Sciences, Academy of Engineering, and School of Medicine earlier this year. More than 5 million people, including 363,000 children under the age of 5, live within 500 meters of these airport runways, and more than 160,000 children go to school in these areas. 2020 EPA analysis.

Marcie Keever, the legal director of Friends of the Earth, previously petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for an endangerment investigation, and subsequently filed a lawsuit in 2012 regarding the agency’s “unreasonable delay” in responding to the petition. She told Ge In List, these communities of color are not only polluted by these airports, but also by nearby industrial areas. The air in these areas is polluted by a variety of pollutants.

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Lead particles can stay in the soil of surrounding communities for a longer period of time, leading to continued exposure by children who grow up or go to school in these areas.Kiefer pointed out that recently Learn Commissioned by the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, the blood lead levels of children living near the Reid-Hillview Airport in San Jose County were checked. Studies have found that continued use of leaded aviation fuel leads to increased blood lead levels, especially for children living within half a mile of the airport, which has more than 50,000 residents. In addition, the blood lead level of children living downwind of the airport was significantly higher than that of children living upwind of the facility. The magnitude of the difference is roughly equal to the difference measured between the children tested during the peak of the Flint water crisis and the children tested before the urban water supply was contaminated with lead.

“I thank the decision makers who stood up here [in Santa Clara County], Even in this very localized environment, saying enough is enough,” Kiefer said.

Santa Clara County Legal Counsel James R. Williams told Grist that, given that there is no scientific consensus on safe blood lead levels, the county’s decision to join the endangerment investigation petition was simple. This is not the first time the county has taken a stand against lead exposure. Williams’ office represented Santa Clara County and nine other plaintiffs for nearly 20 years in a landmark legal case that required former lead paint manufacturers to be responsible for promoting lead paint for homes. Despite its known toxicity. 2019 year settlement This resulted in a payment of US$305 million to 10 counties and cities in California to address the hazards of lead paint in households across the state.

As far as leaded aviation fuel is concerned, Williams said that the regulatory battle will be launched at both the federal and local levels. “We don’t imagine this will happen within 24 hours, during which we have thousands of children whose lives and livelihoods are threatened,” he told Grist.

In order to find a more direct remedy, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously last week Prohibition of the sale of leaded aviation gasoline At Reid-Hillview Airport, and urge the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to close the facility by 2031, when the conditions related to the FAA grant funds will expire. Williams expects the FAA to oppose these two efforts, but his office plans to continue to urge them to take action.

Williams said: “So, as a local community, we can’t stand by and let children suffer permanent injuries and permanent injuries, and how long the federal government may take.”

In its petition, the alliance believes that leaded aviation gasoline meets the standards required by the “Clean Air Act” in order to make a hazard determination. This includes determining that lead-containing aviation gas emissions from piston engine aircraft cause air pollution, and that lead air pollution can be reasonably expected to endanger public health or welfare. Smith said that given the level of evidence required—for example, if emissions contribute to pollution even if it is small, it can be up to standard—this discovery may have been made decades ago.The Alliance recognizes that EPA is facing many urgent challenges because of environmental regulations Backward under the Trump administration, But considering the existing research, Smith said that the endangered discovery is basically prepared for the decision.

“Everyone knows that lead is harmful. Everyone knows that these airplanes are the main source of lead into the air. The EPA has prepared all the research it needs; all it needs to do is to cross the finish line and discover the danger ,” Smith said.

According to the law, EPA must respond to the petition by rejecting or approving the petition. Kiefer hopes that this decision can be made quickly and surely. Even if the EPA decides to advance the results of this investigation, it will trigger a multi-year process, including hearings, the final hazard investigation results, and then formulating rules to work with the FAA to pass standards to regulate and reduce emissions. Kiefer pointed out that although the staff of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Air and Radiation continued to work hard on this issue during Trump’s administration, the final decision will depend on the political will of the person leading the agency.

“[The staff at the Office of Air and Radiation] Putting every i and crossing every t again and again, the problem seems to lie with the EPA’s political decision-makers, no matter which government it is. Situation, so we still have a process before us. ”

During this period, Keever encouraged other advocacy organizations to promote unleaded fuel options at general aviation airports (some facilities such as San Carlos Airport in San Mateo County, California have already adopted them) and conduct additional research to find fuel alternatives. This effort Part of this includes raising public awareness of an invisible toxic pollutant that is ejected from small general aviation airports that are not normally considered a source of harmful pollution.

President Biden is committed to solving environmental justice and child lead poisoning issues, which makes the alliance full of hope that leaded aviation fuel will eventually receive regulatory attention from the US Environmental Protection Agency.

“This is not a question of more research, it is not a question of lead science, and it is not a question of evaluating anything,” Williams said. “It’s a matter of actually issuing regulations and knowing the political will that the market will follow, just like everywhere else.”

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