Center for Environmental Health (CEH) director of research Caroline Cox told AVweb Thursday that aviation interests and CEH have started negotiations that could lead to an out-of-court settlement regarding the use of leaded avgas in California. According to Cox, "virtually all" the cases CEH has pursued in its 15 years have ended in settlements. Legally, CEH is entitled to 25 percent of any civil penalties imposed as the result of a settlement or court judgment. At issue is California legislation aimed to protect residents from toxins, which CEH says applies to leaded aviation fuel. Cox says she's not aware of any studies performed specifically in California that show elevated levels of lead in children living near airports, but referenced a North Carolina study.
Cox discussed CEH's position and three potential outcomes of negotiations with AVweb's Glenn Pew in a podcast interview. Precisely how levels are measured and the source of contamination could become issues of contention in court and require extensive studies and expenditure to resolve. When asked if a settlement could be reached without either side actually knowing how or even if lead levels are affected by any changes agreed to in a settlement, Cox described a separate case. To avoid the costs of study and litigation, CEH may be hoping aviation interests will reach a settlement without either party ever establishing the level of contribution leaded avgas may or may not be making to the level of lead in humans living near California airports.