According to the Mayo Clinic, there is technically no “safe” level of lead in blood. But, the level of 5 mcg/dL is used to suggest possibly unsafe levels for children.
Over the past 40 years, blood lead levels among children living in the United States have significantly declined as a result of policies that stipulated the removal of lead from food cans, paint, plumbing, and automotive gasoline.
Most notably, the phasing-out of tetraethyl lead from automotive gasoline via the Clean Air Act of 1970 is generally agreed to have been the most effective of these legislative actions.
But, just a few days ago, one new study published in PNAS Nexus found that children living near a California airport– known as Reid-Hillview Airport in Santa Clara County– have higher blood lead levels.
This is alarming since leaded gasoline continues to be utilized by piston-engine aircraft throughout the U.S. in spite of policymakers’ efforts.
Leaded gasoline has remained a standard component of aviation fuel, being used by approximately one hundred and seventy thousand piston-engine aircrafts throughout the nation.
And today, the utilization of lead-formulated aviation gasoline actually accounts for up to 66% of all lead emissions in the U.S.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, an estimated 4 million people live within half a mile of an airport that services piston-engine planes. On top of that, about 600 elementary and secondary schools reside in the same vicinity.
In this specific study, though, a research team analyzed the lead levels in the blood of children under the age of six who resided near Reid-Hillview Airport in Santa Clara County. This study spanned a 10-year period, taking place from 2011 to 2020.