Petition Calls For Lead-Free Avgas
The Bluewater Network (a division of Friends of the Earth) has filed a petition with the EPA calling for the reduction or elimination of lead from aviation's gasoline. The group says leaded fuel threatens the health of airport workers, pilots, passengers and communities next to airports. It also claims that 70 percent of aircraft can use unleaded automotive fuel and the remaining 30 percent can use ethanol-based fuels. It didn't say where this information came from but the authors of the petition, David Zizmor and Damir Kouliev, seem pretty convinced of their data. "Safe unleaded alternatives to aviation gasoline already exist," said Zizmor.
While it's true that aircraft engines will run on unleaded car gas, they are more prone to problems like vapor lock. Ethanol-based fuels are specifically banned for use in aircraft because the alcohol can damage rubber seals and other engine parts. EAA is currently fighting to ensure that ethanol-free fuels remain available in states that are considering (or have passed) laws requiring a percentage (usually 10) of ethanol in automotive fuels for oil conservation and environmental reasons. The Bluewater Network says there's no excuse for the EPA not to banish lead from avgas, noting the effects of lead on health and the environment are serious and well-documented.