If you live near an airport, either a small regional airport or a large airport that is also used by small planes, you know that air quality problems are a daily reality. Lead pollution from small airplanes that continue to use lead-based fuel is a major problem, since lead can adversely affect the nervous system, kidney function, immune system, reproductive and developmental systems and the cardiovascular system.
CEH took legal action in California to address the pollution problem from lead-based aviation fuel, and we have reached a ground-breaking legal agreement to help alleviate lead pollution around 23 California airports. We also expect our legal action will prompt the aviation industry to adopt lead-free fuel more quickly, sparing the air around airports nationwide.
Do you live near one of the airports on the map below?
Click on the airport icon to see a map of the neighborhood around the California airports with significant lead emissions. (Airport list is below the map)
- Bob Hope Airport (BUR- Burbank)
- Brackett Field (POC- La Verne)
- Brown Field Municipal Airport (SDM- San Diego)
- Buchanan Field (CCR- Concord)
- Camarillo Airport (KCMA- Camarillo)
- El Monte Airport (EMT- El Monte)
- Fresno Yosemite International Airport (FAT- Fresno)
- Hayward Executive (HWD- Hayward)
- John Wayne Airport (SNA- Santa Ana)
- Long Beach Airport (LGB- Long Beach; formerly Daugherty Field)
- Los Angeles International Airport (LAX- Los Angeles)
- Meadows Field (BFL- Bakersfield)
- Montgomery Field (MYF- San Diego)
- Napa County Airport (APC- Napa)
- Oakland International Airport (OAK- Oakland)
- Palo Alto Airport (PAO- Palo Alto)
- Reid-Hillview Airport (RHV- San Jose)
- Sacramento Executive Airport (SAC- Sacramento)
- San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport (SBP- San Luis Obispo)
- Santa Barbara Municipal Airport (SBA- Santa Barbara)
- Santa Monica Municipal Airport (SMO- Santa Monica)
- Van Nuys Airport (VNY- Van Nuys)
- Zamperini Field (TOA- Torrance)
If you live near a small airport that is not on our list, email Kaya Allan Sugerman at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Leaded Gas: Out of Cars But Still in Planes
If you were driving a car before 1995, you may remember that cars sometimes used “regular” (leaded gasoline). Leaded gasoline was the only gasoline available between the 1920s and the early 1970s. Between 1974 and 1995, the use of leaded gas for cars was gradually phased out. The US Environmental Protection Agency called this “one of the one of the great environmental achievements of all time,” noting that “thousands of tons of lead have been removed from the air, and blood levels of lead in our children are down 70 percent. This means that millions of children will be spared the painful consequences of lead poisoning, such as permanent nerve damage, anemia or mental retardation.”
While cars were required to use unleaded fuel after 1995, today small propeller planes (often called general aviation planes) and some helicopters are still allowed to use leaded aviation gas (avgas). Currently, leaded avgas is the largest source of lead air pollution in the US, causing emissions of over 500 tons of lead per year. Recent research has found that children living near general aviation airports have higher blood lead levels than children living farther away, and studies have linked high childhood lead levels to a host of serious health problems.