Prez Stifles EPA on Ozone. How About Lead?

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If you were minding the news over the quiet Labor Day weekend, you may have noticed a bombshell of sorts: The Obama administration pulled the rug out from under EPA on proposed new regulations for tighter ozone standards. This caught nearly everyone by surprise, since Obama and the Democrats were believed to be on track to promulgate generally more restrictive environmental regulations.

But what does it have to do with aviation? Maybe nothing, maybe everything. As our ad nauseam reporting on leaded aviation gasoline has revealed, the EPA is in the midst of determining whether lead in aviation gasoline represents a health risk. It's doing the monitoring and research to make the case, using the Clean Air Act as the legal basis for regulatory action. The recently proposed ozone regulations followed a similar path, with EPA generating the health risk data to make its case.

In thwarting EPA, the administration said it wanted an update of the science before signing off, but everyone knows that the real reason is political. The president doesn't want to be vulnerable to claims of supporting "job killing" regulations. That's the new, all-purpose defense for industry when it doesn't want to spend money to clean up messes it may or may not have made. In any case, Obama's decision gives ozone emitters at least a two-year stay of execution. In the current economy, I can't argue with the decision.

Could the same thing happen when the airborne lead case finally reaches a head? It's intriguing to think so. There's little question that eliminating lead from aviation fuels will have a negative economic impact, although the size of it is unknown. If unleaded high-octane fuels cost more, this would conceivably reduce demand and activity, thus the "job killing" defense becomes plausible.

On the other hand, compared to the $90 billion claimed impact of the ozone standards, GA is chump change and may not have the political visibility to make the case, if the case comes up at all. Unfortunately, the timing may be all wrong. The inflection point on lead is at least two years away, if not five, and the damage being done to GA is happening right now, mostly in erosion of buying confidence. The lack of a clear replacement for leaded fuel or even whether one will be needed is exerting a small drag on GA sales. (I think other factors are much larger, but fuel worries just add to the malaise.)

Still, it's at least a minor comfort to imagine that the EPA pressure on lead emissions from avgas would just go away. Of such stuff are fantasies made on a rainy September afternoon.

Comments (45)

"the administration said it wanted an update of the science before signing off, but everyone knows that the real reason is political"

Actually people know it's ECONOMIC. That realization is that the cost/benefit analysis never was positive. Ironically so is further reducing CO2, lead, methane, and the rest of the so called EPA projects of late.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | September 7, 2011 7:16 PM    Report this comment

Not likely. People have viewed lead as bad for a generation now. How many people have NEVER owned a car that used leaded gas? Compare that to ozone, which most people don't know about either way.

Posted by: Jesse Derks | September 7, 2011 7:17 PM    Report this comment

This is an apples to oranges comparison, Paul. Lead is a known health risk and is feared by most of the public, regardless of the actual risk caused by aircraft. A risk due to ozone, by contrast, is related to the overall theories of man-made global warming, which the majority of the American public rejects. The public will not support higher costs due to even more regulations to "solve" a problem that few believe exists. But what about the true problems that ethanol production is causing our environment, safety and economy? Any problems due to avgas or ozone pale by comparison. The tide is turning here, though; Governor Rick Perry hit the nail on the head recently when he called on Congress to issue waivers from the ethanol production mandates. Hundreds of thousands of boaters and pilots in your state, Florida, would probably welcome this given the mess your new E10 mandates for cars are causing.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | September 8, 2011 9:14 AM    Report this comment

I don't understand why leaded avgas is such a big issue, when it only accounts for .1% of all motor fuels used in the US annually. Much ado about nothing.

Posted by: Will Alibrandi | September 8, 2011 9:32 AM    Report this comment

It may be politically smart to delay new restrictions on unproven theories...but it's also economically smart as well, and I'm glad to see the alternative thinking in a politician.

Posted by: George Horn | September 8, 2011 10:50 AM    Report this comment

"This is an apples to oranges comparison, Paul. Lead is a known health risk and is feared by most of the public, regardless of the actual risk caused by aircraft. A risk due to ozone, by contrast, is related to the overall theories of man-made global warming."

No, it is an apples to apples comparison. The concern about ozone has nothing to do with global warming. Ground-level ozone is a key air pollutant that has been of concern for a long, long time because it is a toxic, irritating gas formed when NOx and VOCs come in contact with both heat and sunlight. The result is smog. Ozone smog. Some of the immediate health effects include shortness of breath, asthma attacks, increased susceptibility to respiratory infections and inflammation, and heart arrhythmias. Of course in areas with high ozone levels this is only likely to be a problem for children and teens, people over 65, people who work or exercise outdoors, or people with existing lung diseases.

Posted by: Bob Davison | September 8, 2011 11:41 AM    Report this comment

The science behind ozone is just as corrupted as the science behind co2 related climate effects. Here is an interesting link. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/01/08/new-rate-of-stratospheric-photolysis-questions-ozone-hole/

Posted by: Nick Chapman | September 8, 2011 12:26 PM    Report this comment

Kent, as Bob explained, it's absolutely apples to apples--maybe MacIntosh to Granny Smith. Ozone is a greenhouse gas, but that's not the context here.

To what Bob said, I'd add that ozone as an environmental health threat might very well be orders of magnitude worse than lead in avgas, because it potentially affects so many.

Modern life is full of toxic materials and processes. We try to contain and control these, then accept whatever hazard remains as a tradeoff against some benefit. That's what Obama did in nixing the ozone regulations.

Everyone agrees lead is toxic and bad stuff. So is methyl chloride and a hundred other chemicals we use every day. The key is to balance known and demonstrated negative health effects against benefits, not just ban something because it's theoretically hazardous. That hasn't been done with TEL in avgas.

It may get there. But the science so far isn't convincing and may not have been with ozone, either.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | September 8, 2011 12:36 PM    Report this comment

Kent said "Lead is a known health risk"

Everything is health risk. The reality is that the hospitals are not packed with lead related problems. That means the the "risk" is too small to be measured by empirical observation. Q.E.D.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | September 8, 2011 12:57 PM    Report this comment

Mark, that's not the point. We lost the argument over lead years ago. Trying to change attitudes about leaded fuel is futile. ExxonMobil must have realized this too last month when they quietly announced they were leaving GA to focus on Jet-A for airlines. Which avgas supplier will be the next to throw in the towel?

Posted by: Kent Misegades | September 8, 2011 1:39 PM    Report this comment

Kent, your "Lead is a known health risk" is wrong based on observation. That is the whole point, that attitudes are not science. Basing policies on wrong attitudes instead of observations COSTS society.

The same fear mongering about CO2 and Ozone also is a huge costs to society for negligible gain. Hopefully we elect reasonable people to office who at least do a basic cost/benefit analysis before telling the western world to use Ethanol.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | September 8, 2011 2:08 PM    Report this comment

Mark, I probably should have said "the public believes that any amount of lead emissions is an unacceptable health risk," which I believe is precisely their perception. I wish all those who are trying to change this perception the best of luck. We all have to choose our battles, mine is to get ethanol out of premium fuel and autogas onto our airports. If others can also convince Congress, the EPA/FOE/CEH and the general public that lead is not a health risk, all the better for GA. I have great doubt that ozone is an issue; I have seen how our state regulators here in NC have played with ozone regulations to push their anti-coal, anti-car, pro-wind/solar/public transportation agenda. I suspect the EPA would do the same.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | September 8, 2011 2:17 PM    Report this comment

I would prefer to see the current leaded avgas situation solved, ASAP.

If the President did put a moratorium in place, any progress that might be ongoing right now will be back-burnered to no ones benefit. We have, after all, done little while operating under temporary waivers for 30 years or so.

Let EPA complete their study and come up with a definitive plan for mitigation. Get the cloud of uncertainty behind us.

Posted by: Edd Weninger | September 8, 2011 2:29 PM    Report this comment

I recall reading a document regarding the impact of 100LL. The document simply calculated the total fuel sales at each airport and assigned to that airport location the entire amount of lead based on the fuel sales.

This would only occur in the actual world if each aircraft that purchased fuel at that airport ran their engine or engines on airport property until all purchased fuel is exhausted. This clearly has never occurred although the study assumed it occurs after every fuel purchase.

Does anyone know of any study that allocated lead distribution in accordance with average flight lengths and average altitudes?

My sense is that lead from aircraft engines largely falls to earth over unpopulated areas and causes no one any adverse health effects. This is much different than the effect from automobiles where whatever noxious emissions are left on the roadway or immediate surrounding areas.

Posted by: Stephen Shirley | September 8, 2011 2:35 PM    Report this comment

The point about not carrying on the fight is a good one. The ozone polluters thought it in their interest to challenge the regulations and maybe save a bunch of money. All they've really done is put it off a few years, most likely.

I wouldn't spend a lot of resources trying to change what's probably a done deal, even though it may turn out to be not a done deal, depending on EPA's finding of endangerment results.

I am merely musing here on how a similar logic, if applied to aviation, would solve an expensive problem.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | September 8, 2011 3:00 PM    Report this comment

"This is an apples to oranges comparison..."

Who said you couldn't compare apples to oranges? In fact, they are in many ways alike:

* Apples and oranges both grow on trees. * The skin of apples is usually smooth, while oranges are rough. * Both fruits are sweet and can be made into juice. * Eight ounces of apple or orange juice have nearly identical calories. (~115 calories) * Both can be eaten without cooking. * The mean size of each is nearly the same. * Both have seeds. * The only large difference is fiber content. Apples have nearly twice the fiber of oranges.

Posted by: Gary Dikkers | September 8, 2011 3:07 PM    Report this comment

The real issue is uncertainty. If the government would come out and make a strong statement about the future of lead, it would allow people to plan for the future. No company wants to develop an engine that can run on lead-free gasoline if 100LL is going to be available forever. I would like the government to pick a date 15-20 years from now when lead will be banned and then allow the marketplace to develop something. An even better plan would be to tax leaded fuel and increase that tax each year until it is banned (in 15-20 years).

Posted by: Ryan Turner | September 8, 2011 3:16 PM    Report this comment

Ryan, I like your plan (1) Not too crazy about plan (2) but even under the first idea the price of leaded fuel will increase as gallons used decrease. I agree that the industry needs a definite decision as to what the fuel of the future will be.

Posted by: Josh Johnson | September 8, 2011 4:23 PM    Report this comment

Ryan - Engine makers long ago began developing, and delivering, aircraft engines that run best on an unleaded, FAA-approved aviation fuel we call autogas. Rotax, Jabiru, ULPower, D-Motor, Hirth, Mistral, Vedenyev, AeroVee, Rotec, etc. - all run great on premium,unleaded, ethanol-free autogas. Many other legacy engines can use it under STCs. Even Lycoming is quietly beginning to support autogas. The larger question is why would any engine maker develop a new engine that needs a 100 octane fuel in 2011?

Posted by: Kent Misegades | September 8, 2011 4:48 PM    Report this comment

Hi, I am disgusted that this BS about the lead in AVgas got so far! The outrage about the Alcohol in the fuel is needed instead ! -The Feds and even the president should have stepped in and given the 100LL a full waiver: We have enough problems as a Nation and economy as it is, there is no need to damage one of the VERY FEW PARTS OF THIS ECONOMY WHERE MADE IN THE USA still has a meaning! GA only still exists because of all the cheap and good old airplanes and engines out there, those are affordable to the shrinking middle class! Who could afford a new, 350K airplane??? VERY FEW. And I say it again: IF THE EPA AND THE FEDS REALLY cared about the environment, THEY would give us alcohol free Gas and much less AVgas 100LL would be burned. Nobody should be burning it that doesnt have to, and those that have to should have a chance to mix the fuel they need, like 80/87 etc... Its a sad affair, typical for recent days...

Posted by: Lars Gleitsmann | September 9, 2011 1:59 AM    Report this comment

I think we need to turn the fight another direction. First, instead of fighting to keep 100Ll available for everyone, the fight that would get most of our opponents on our side would be to get the government out of the way and make it much easier to get mogas STC's for most a/c. Why should it take years and hundreds of hours of testing to certify every engine/airframe combination? If a Continental O-200 will run on 87 octane unleaded in a C150, it will do the same on virtually any other airframe. If the FAA issued blanket approval for mogas use in any engine that won't self-destruct due to preignition, probably 95% of the piston GA fleet would switch in a heartbeat, in fact, it could be mandated. Then, the fight could be easily won to create exemptions and fuel supplements for those a/c which must have leaded fuel, just like there are lead supplements available for high-performance automobiles.

Posted by: Mark Consigny | September 9, 2011 8:55 AM    Report this comment

"...VERY FEW PARTS OF THIS ECONOMY WHERE MADE IN THE USA still has a meaning!..."

Ethanol is Made in the U.S.A. which I think is why I think it is attractive to politicians.

That might change though. Environmentalists are seemingly backing away from ethanol and even bio-fuels as they factor in hidden environmental costs. They are much better at lobbying than we are, so...

Of course, they would probably rather we wouldn't fly at all.

Posted by: Edd Weninger | September 9, 2011 10:10 AM    Report this comment

Paul tells us: "Ozone is a greenhouse gas, .... "

I thought ozone high in the stratosphere (not to be confused with ozone at ground level) was necessary to keep ultraviolet radiation at bay, and that the reason the world's governments outlawed chlorofluorocarbons was because the chlorine content was bleaching away the upper-atmospheric ozone layer. This was (from what we are told, in any event) causing increased levels of ultraviolet radiation at ground level, thus causing all kinds of problems.

Posted by: Alex Kovnat | September 9, 2011 11:12 AM    Report this comment

You can find lots about ozone as a greenhouse gas if you Google around a little. Here's a NOAA summary:

"Concentrations of ozone have risen by around 30 percent since the pre-industrial era, and is now considered by the IPCC to be the third most important greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide and methane. An additional complication of ozone is that it also interacts with and is modulated by concentrations of methane."

Man-made ozone forms with the interaction of sunlight and emission products from power plants and cars. It's far more potent as a heat trapper than carbon dioxide is.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | September 9, 2011 11:36 AM    Report this comment

Lest I endeavor to completely decouple the cart and horse...

What is GA's contribution to lead across the USA's land mass per year?

Something like .00000002 oz per sq. ft.

I'll bet that would be almost unmeasurable, even with a mass spectrometer?

Also - that the oft touted lead levels at that socal airport? Done downwind of run-up areas - not the average over the airport.

That information will never convince an emotional "anti-lead" zealot, but may sway a politician in delaying mandates.

Posted by: Marc Salvisberg | September 9, 2011 11:42 AM    Report this comment

Keep in mind that the point is policy based on politics not science. Little policy comes from good replicable science, but science (good and bad) can influence the political pressures. The EPA has moved to ban lead bullets not based on science but for political reasons and has had limited success because of opposing political pressures. Economics is the most effective argument.

People panic at the sound of lead, CO2, VOC, ozone, radiation….. While we have jobs and work, those opposed are at every meeting, lobbying when possible, and writing letters to editors at new papers. As a student I once saw a sign at the CNR at USU which read; “Do you work for a living or are you an environmentalist?” That is a salient point for both sides.

Set anyone straight that you need to whenever possible, give them something to consider that counters the BS they hear from other sources. It is not easy but it gets people thinking. As a corporate pilot I almost pulled an airplane out of an avionics upgrade when the shop owner complained about “the rich.” After I pointed out how much of the “rich person’s money” was flowing back to me, him, the FBO, the fuel supplier, the fuel refiner… his tune changed. The environmental issues require a similar approach, educate those close by and make the political pressure drive policy.

Posted by: Brian Staheli | September 9, 2011 10:51 PM    Report this comment

'Set anyone straight that you need to whenever possible, give them something to consider that counters the BS they hear from other sources. '

Happy to oblidge! Thanks for the opportunity.

'The EPA has moved to ban lead bullets not based on science but for political reasons'

No one I know is panicking, but lead rifle bullet fragments from carcasses or gut piles from careless hunters around Grand Canyon are killing condors and other raptors steadily. It's the #1 reason for the condors deaths. But perhaps more influential in getting hunters to switch to non-lead bullets are the recent news articles discussing the presence of lead in people who have eaten wild game killed with lead ammunition. In fact the North Dakota health department recommends that young children and pregnant women should avoid eating wild game killed with lead bullets. That is proven medical science, what gov't agencies do with the info can be political or not, depending on lobbying and political power grabs.

Though I think the lead emmissions from GA are virtually inconsequential, they are on the way out from guilt by association. Hope we can eventually find workable solutions for all fuel users.

Dave Miller - proud pilot, letter-to-the-editor writer and... environmentalist, working hard to educate any intolerant non-environmentalists of nature's relevance and astounding beauty.

Posted by: Dave Miller | September 10, 2011 1:58 PM    Report this comment

"Though I think the lead emissions from GA are virtually inconsequential"

Thanks, Dave. I try to educate where I can.

I didn't even bring up natural dispersal rates.

Posted by: Marc Salvisberg | September 10, 2011 2:23 PM    Report this comment

To all who ues the argument that,"the amount of lead due to avgas is so small that avgas should get a waiver", what do you say when another interest comes slong and wants a waiver? Using that argument we could soon be back in the same conditions that got lead banned from gasoline in the first place. So I think we need to find a permanent and acceptable solution to the problem.

Posted by: steve egolf | September 14, 2011 12:43 PM    Report this comment

Interesting. Using that argument that "all" lead should be banned, you will have laws that prevent kids from riding dirt bikes and ATV's because kids might chew on battery terminals. Oh! Wait! That IS a law....... So - I almost see the waiver complaint, but consider the insane EPA effort to mathematically produce threat evidence at the nano-level of exposure. Sheesh! If you do a little research, you can actually find waste water regulations that would make flushing "legal" tapwater illegal. I had a project manager friend who was rolling his eyes because CARB's emission limits from his power cogeneration plant were mandated to be actually cleaner than central valley air. The funny story about that is that the CARB guys hopped a farm fence onto private property to make measurements and got run off by an angry farmer (complete with shotgun). No - EPA is out of control and hurting the USA's economy and individual freedoms. I haven't met anybody who has died of lead poisoning. My Dad was a typesetter most of his life. Handling near molten lead all day long. Linotype machines. What caused his demise? Smoking and airborne paper fibers from working at a newspaper.

Posted by: Marc Salvisberg | September 14, 2011 1:10 PM    Report this comment

I haven't met anybody who has died of lead poisoning. >

If you had, Marc, I would be very interested in your abilities. :)

Waivers show our ability to rightly discriminate - something lost nowadays, substituted by my-way-or-the-highway polarization in the body politic. I stand by eliminating lead bullets due to potential concentration levels for meat consumption for animals and uninformed humans, and still hope we find solutions for avgas replacement because it looks like its days are numbered too.

Posted by: Dave Miller | September 14, 2011 1:55 PM    Report this comment

"If you had, Marc, I would be very interested in your abilities. :) "

There's about 2 types of people.... those who can see humor and those who can't. Thanks much :-)

Posted by: Marc Salvisberg | September 14, 2011 2:31 PM    Report this comment

"What is GA's contribution to lead across the USA's land mass per year? Something like .00000002 oz per sq. ft."

Marc, that's certainly one way to look at issue of leaded avgas. In your efforts to educate people you might also want to let them know about some different ways of looking at GA's contribution to lead. For instance, this one provided by a new study out of Duke University:

"Our results suggest that children living within 500 m of an airport at which planes use leaded avgas have higher blood lead levels than other children. This apparent effect of avgas on blood lead levels was evident among children living within 1000 m of airports. The estimated effect on blood lead levels exhibited a monotonically decreasing dose-response pattern, with the largest impact on children living within 500 m."

That type of information ought to give at least some pause to even the most ardent defender of the status quo. The risk of lead exposure is not so much death. It interferes with the development of the nervous system and is therefore particularly toxic to children, causing potentially permanent learning and behavior disorders.

Posted by: Bob Davison | September 14, 2011 4:20 PM    Report this comment

Seriously? How many children live w/in 1500' of an airport? What were the metrics of that study? How many airports? What geographic distribution? How many chidren and what was done to eliminate other environmental variables? I smell a study which began with a predetermined result.

Posted by: Mark Consigny | September 14, 2011 5:10 PM    Report this comment

Oh, and on the dual subjects of setting people straight and lead bullets, I'd like to quote an article from nebraskalandmagazine.com, to wit: "Recent efforts in North Dakota and Minnesota suggest some lead fragmentation from bullets in venison. This was noted when Dr. Bill Cornatzer, a dermatologist, used x-ray technology on 95 packages of deer meat to determine the lead content, finding lead fragments in 53 packages. Dr. Cornatzer is a member of the Peregrine Fund, a conservation based organization that has lead efforts to ban lead used by hunters. By itself, this sounds alarming but the real question is this. IF lead poisoning from hunters eating game meat is such an issue, why have we not heard about hunters getting lead poisoning?

At the urging of North Dakota Dept. of Health, the Center For Disease Control tested several hundred residents who had reported eating more than one type of game meat and found their lead levels were actually LOWER than the national average! Top that with a report from the CDC that they have never found a case of human lead poisoning traced back to eating wild game. According to a National Shooting Sports Foundation report on the subject, the Iowa Department of Public Health has said, “IDPH maintains that if lead in venison were a serious health risk, it would likely have surfaced within extensive blood lead testing since 1992 with 500,000 youth under 6 and 25,000 adults having been screened.” It has not. "

Posted by: Mark Consigny | September 14, 2011 5:24 PM    Report this comment

Believe whatever study suits you, Mark. Dig in to that lead fragment tainted venison with gusto. Feed it to your kids, pregnant wife and pets. Dead condors, lead in paint on toys from China, real science on nervous system harm in children for learning and behavior disorders, (nod to Bob D.) it's all just a frightening conspiracy by government and environmentalists. I still don't think leaded AVgas is a proven problem, but you're just proving my point of being unable to discriminate.

If you like, while you're eating, here's a forhuntersbyhunters dot com article named 'getting the lead out what do you think?' that shows another side to the subject - from hunters. Bon appetit.

Posted by: Dave Miller | September 14, 2011 6:24 PM    Report this comment

"I still don't think leaded AVgas is a proven problem, but you're just proving my point of being unable to discriminate."

That's just the thing...keeping an open mind to what the legitimate science might reveal, even if it runs counter to your own experience and opinions.

You always have to be ready to be pulled up short.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | September 14, 2011 6:47 PM    Report this comment

"I haven't met anybody who has died of lead poisoning."

Undoubtedly you've met people who's intelligence has been reduced by lead. I don't doubt that happened to me to some extent having grown up in the era before leaded gas was banned. In a cost benefit analysis it may not pencil out to go after 100LL but in the long run it probably also doesn't pencil out for aviation to fight the eventual banning of lead in fuel either.

Also, ozone in the stratosphere is formed naturally and as has been noted is a vital protection against the Sun's UV radiation. Ozone in the lower troposphere is hazardous to living things. A study from the National Bureau of Economic Research found: "We find robust evidence that ozone levels well below federal air quality standards have a significant impact on productivity: a 10 ppb decrease in ozone concentrations increases worker productivity by 4.2 percent"

Posted by: David Werth | September 14, 2011 8:00 PM    Report this comment

"Undoubtedly you've met people who's intelligence has been reduced by lead."

I'd have to agree that I've met some people with reduced intelligence, but, blaming it on lead is a stretch.

Here's year, population,and iq and trend projection

year pop IQ

1950 2.55 91.64

1975 4.08 90.80

2000 6.07 89.20

2025 7.82 87.81

2050 9.06 86.32 (fourmilab.ch/documents/IQ/1950-2050/)

If we have removed all this lead from the human experience then most of the new kids should be smarter, but it appears that whatever effect lead really has on intelligence isn't evident. (you'd have agree that lead exposure has been reduced since the 50's and 70's)

The studies people banter about are usually not the distribution of reduced intelligence, but of nano quantities of lead in blood.

The anti-lead juggernauts are known for skewing sample locations.

Posted by: Marc Salvisberg | September 15, 2011 12:29 AM    Report this comment

Heh-heh! I'm a lead retard! I started out with an IQ of 160 in 1964, as tested by the school whose teachers hated me, and I remember using "Clark 100" autogas which was as full of tetraethyl lead as 115/130 avgas!

Nowadays, I feel like I got an IQ of 80, especially after encountering "enviros", and crooked lunatic politicians!

It all makes me want to see the late Cliff Rovertson's movie, "Charly", again!

I am surprised that Avweb commentors don't seem to understand that lead WAS extensively fought and argued about during the advent of the automobile. The enviros argued that we would all be blind, retarded, impotent, with leaded gas in our cars. Fortunately, the industrialists won, and our lives improved, because transportation became ten times faster than horse travel.

Without leaded gas, farmers experienced destructive detonation on their farm equipment, especially portable pumps and generators, and it was blamed on Delco's battery breaker-point ignitions. Luckily, Delco and others discovered lead in the gas solved the problem. As a people, we are more prosperous, and made startling advances during the war and space and computer ages.

I know I am not very helpful on focused issues, here, but lead is just a non-issue for me, even though I am "blind" and "retarded", consume oxygen, and emit CO2 and methane, hydrogen sulfide, and other toxins.

Well, dear enviros, you should all schedule yourselves chelations, I'll take a pass on that, as I generally avoid doctors!

Posted by: Ron Brown | September 15, 2011 1:30 AM    Report this comment

Marc, If lead were the only factor your list of IQ's by year might have a point but that list is not controlled to tickle out the effect of lead. But the effects of lead on animals are well documented in the laboratory.

Posted by: David Werth | September 15, 2011 12:38 PM    Report this comment

Part of the problem is that it's not possible to exactly correlate extremely low blood lead levels with "reduced" achieved intelligence. We can guess and use statistics to kind of support "lead causes reduced intelligence" - but there is no human experiment. There's too many people and groups that have somewhat higher lead blood level amounts that are statistically "higher IQ" than other groups. In my field, where I'm optimizing a multi-factored analog combination of values, eventually I can get to several combinations that are essentially, In My Objective Opinion, identical. But, of the 5 factors, supplier #1 of one of the factors will cherry pick the combinations that he can use to bolster his product's performance and run with it. Suppliers #2, #3, #4 and #5 will do the same - cherry pick the tests that make them look the best. The problem is that in the real world, we found that any one of maybe 5 of the combinations will give exactly the same real world results. If you get into this and look at the big picture, you'll find arguments about minor lead levels vs IQ, arguments about some smarter people or groups that have elevated lead levels, arguments about lead bullets and elevated or not lead levels in game eaters, the fairness and consistency of IQ tests (huge controversy!). It doesn't help that the "anti" side has, over the years, exaggerated and misrepresented the facts in their zealousness.

Posted by: Marc Salvisberg | September 15, 2011 1:17 PM    Report this comment

Anybody remember the 70's outcry about leaded fuel and the sides of the highways being fouled with lead from leaded fuels? A CalTrans engineer told me that the side of any CA highway qualified as an "EPA toxic site" way back then.

Was that lead from fuel all from leaded fuel like they said? Well, err, actually, apparently, err.. no.

According to CAL EPA, the lead on the side of the roads is Actually from lost wheel weights.

So - which is a lie?

Did they lie in the 70's when they claimed the lead on the side of the highways was caused by leaded fuel or did they lie when they recently told us that the lead on the side of the highways was caused by lost lead tire weights?

Don't get me wrong - I'm not for willy nilly spewing "stuff" all over the environment, I just don't want to act as if "data scatter" is life and death, Gospel Truth.

Posted by: Marc Salvisberg | September 15, 2011 1:18 PM    Report this comment

"Marc, If lead were the only factor your list of IQ's by year might have a point but that list is not controlled to tickle out the effect of lead"

Agreed, but of one has to tickle out the data that hard, well, maybe it's a pretty small factor (at today's relatively miniscule lead pollution rate.

If lead exposure is decreasing (as it should be), but IQ is still shrinking, maybe we should be looking at some other factor/s?

And average IQ's should be rising, not falling.

That's the great human science experiment.

Posted by: Marc Salvisberg | September 15, 2011 1:31 PM    Report this comment

Tho I try to be as convincing as possible, Ron, I didn't think you would lose 80 IQ points from my flawless reasoning concerning environmental issues with lead. I'm flattered, yet humbled.

But I know the feeling, your opus this morning hit me before coffee and I felt my IQ slipping away too.

I'll pass on the chelation for now since I don't suffer from lead poisoning like so many others have, but thanks for the heads up.

Posted by: Dave Miller | September 15, 2011 1:32 PM    Report this comment

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