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EPA Ignores Danger of Lead in Aviation Fuel

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rodeodance Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 12:42 PM
Original message
EPA Ignores Danger of Lead in Aviation Fuel


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: EPA Ignores Danger of Lead in Aviation Fuel
Date: Thu, 12 Oct 2006 13:37:45 -0400 (EDT)
From: BushGreenwatch <info@bushgreenwatch.org >
Reply-To: foe@mail.democracyinaction.org
To: xxx


BushGreenwatch

Take Action - tell EPA to get the lead out

..............................

October 12, 2006 | Take Action!
EPA Ignores Danger of Lead in Aviation Fuel

As if flying the friendly skies weren't scary enough.

Now it appears that aviation poses hazards to those of us here on the ground. In the air we breathe, in the water we drink and in the fields where we grow our food.

The problem is lead, specifically leaded aircraft fuel, which leaches through the earth and into our drinking water.

In a petition filed today, Bluewater Network urges the EPA to reduce or eliminate lead from general aviation aircraft fuel - something it has failed to do despite well documented human health impacts of lead exposure.

"The potential health impacts from exposure to lead are especially worrisome because studies increasingly show that no exposure to lead is safe," said Danielle Fugere, legal director for Bluewater Network - a division of Friends of the Earth. The effects are insidious and can range from brain damage, cognitive deficiencies, hypertension, neuropathy and, occasionally, death.

Although the EPA has successfully mandated the phase-out of lead in gasoline, it has been oddly reluctant to address the aviation fuel problem for the last 10 years. "EPA must close the final chapter of leaded fuel by eliminating lead in general aviation aircraft fuel," concludes Fugere.

Getting the lead out wouldn’t be unduly burdensome. According to David Zizmor, co-author of the petition and clinician with Golden Gate University’s Environmental Law and Justice Clinic, “safe unleaded alternatives…already exist.”

Indeed, "nearly 70% of general aviation aircraft can safely use either standard unleaded automobile gas or a modified alternative. And ethanol-based fuel can potentially be used by the remaining 30% of planes," noted co-author Damir Kouliev.

The areas near airports are especially contaminated, because lead-based aviation fuel particulates can end up far from the original source, blown into surrounding fields, forests, streams and waterways. When they are deposited in farm soil, forage areas, and ponds, they expose us, without our knowledge or control, to this poison.

Take action on Friends of the Earth's site - Tell EPA to get the lead out!

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wakeme2008 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 12:55 PM
Response to Original message
1. ZZzzzzzzzz this is used in very old private planes
You play for the $15,000 new engines for these planes if you are worried.
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Sapere aude Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 12:59 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Do all owners of old planes have the $15,000 ?
Edited on Thu Oct-12-06 12:59 PM by Sapere aude
Some people I know that have planes can barely pay to keep them sitting at the airports let alone fly them and replace engines.
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wakeme2008 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 01:00 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. Right and they are not really making any new ones
:shrug:
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Xithras Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 01:27 PM
Response to Original message
4. It's not being ignored.
Far from it. The EPA hasn't forced lead from avgas because the FAA resisted the idea and has instead implemented a longer term plan to slowly phase it out. Why is this important? Because GA engine heads are built using alloys that permit rapid valve wear in knock conditions.

When lead was eliminated from auto gas, the same issue arose. Unleaded gas would work fine in engines designed for leaded fuel, but the valves wore out quickly and the engines suffered premature deaths. Many car owners were forced to have their heads rebuilt, but most simply drove them until the valves failed and the engine wore out. If the car happened to die while it was being driven, the situation wasn't all that serious...the driver coasted to the side of the road, called a tow truck, and bought a new car with an engine capable of living happily on unleaded gasoline.

In a plane, that breakdown would be fatal.

The problem is that planes aren't like cars, and they don't get replaced every few years. My plane was built in 1974, there's quite a few at my field that were built in the 1950's and 60's, and only a handful are more recent than the late 90's. These aircraft cost a lot of money, so they don't simply get tossed when they get old. They get rebuilt, they get upgraded, and they go on flying.

The phaseout of all leaded avgas requires A) the introduction of a replacement fuel with similar anti-knock properties (mogas doesn't cut it because it vapor locks too easily), and B) a sufficiently long lead time to permit everyone to convert their planes to run the new fuel BEFORE cutting off the leaded fuel supply. Many people think that Ethanol may be the solution to the A issue, but until it's certified as a safe alternative by the FAA the fuel isn't going to become widely available. To speed the process up, the FAA has paid out millions to universities and researchers for the development of an aviation safe ethanol based fuel in the hopes that a useable fuel can be readied for the market in the near future. In the meantime, avgas 100 is scheduled for phaseout in the next few years, and everyone is being forced to use avgas 85/87 to reduce lead pollution. The planes that require avgas 100 are essentially being forced out of the air to reduce the worst of the lead pollution, so it's untrue to claim that nothing is being done about the issue.

What is also untrue, though, is the claim in the article that "nearly 70% of general aviation aircraft can safely use either standard unleaded automobile gas or a modified alternative". I could drive down to the local Arco, fill a drum, and run my plane on it just fine...that part is true. The plane would start, it would take off, and it might even fly for a while. But most av engines are built to be lightweight and dissipate heat via relatively inefficient engine cooling fins. The increased heat from detonation will cause that engine to wear out and fail in short order...I wouldn't fly a plane running mogas for all the money in Fort Knox. Aircraft engines are higher compression than automotive engines, and REQUIRE an in-fuel anti-knock agent to keep them running safely and reliably. Lead is the agent used in avgas today. Until the FAA certifies something else as being just as good, GA pilots and plane owners can't do much about it...and an EPA ban on leaded avgas would essentially amount to a ban on private flight. Because so many of our own government representatives either fly on or own private aircraft themselves, a ban like that isn't going to happen. Heck, even the airlines would join the fight because many smaller commuter planes still rely on leaded avgas too.
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Solo_in_MD Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 04:02 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. Concur
the original post is about as clueless as it comes WRT to general aviation fuel issues.
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