The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is requesting comment on data available for evaluating emissions and potential exposure to lead in gas used in piston-engine aircraft, according to an agency press release. Lead exposure is of special concern with young children because it puts them at risk for a wide range of health impacts, including lowered IQ and behavioral disorders.

Since 1980, U.S. lead emissions have decreased by more than 90 percent. EPA also recently issued national air quality standards for lead that are 10 times tighter than the previous standards. There is no known safe level of lead in the body. Lead emissions from aviation gasoline accounts for about half the nation’s lead inventory. There are about 20,000 airport, heliports, and similar facilities nationwide that use leaded gasoline.

The advanced notice of proposed rulemaking being announced today describes the data that are currently available and being collected that would help evaluate health impacts from piston-engine aircraft emissions. This action describes considerations regarding emission engine standards and requests comment on approaches for transitioning the piston-engine fleet to unleaded gas.

This action will be open for a 60-day comment period upon publication in the Federal Register. EPA will review comments and make a determination as to whether aircraft lead emissions cause or contribute to air pollution, which may reasonably be expected to endanger public health or welfare. By law, EPA in consultation with the Federal Aviation Administration would be required to issue standards if a positive finding were made.

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