Lead still found in gasoline? The answer for small airplanes is, surprisingly, yes.

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avions tourisme aérodrome Toussus-le-Noble

Des avions de tourisme sur l’aérodrome de Toussus-le-Noble, en France © LOIC VENANCE / AFP

Here’s a fact that surprises even most environmentalists and public health advocates: Small aircraft in the US still use leaded gasoline.

It was certainly a surprise to me. In the last few years, I’ve spent a fair bit of time working on reducing lead air pollution. NRDC was very involved in the rulemakings both updating the standards for lead in air for the first time in 30 years and setting standards for monitoring for lead in air (on which, incidentally, we recently had a gratifying victory). So, I knew that lead was still emitted in the US by numerous industrial facilities. Like most people, I thought we had eliminated lead from gasoline. But aviation fuel is separately regulated and continues to be used in small aircraft.


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