Environmental Report Pushes For 100LL Replacements

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An environmental group that has been urging the EPA to regulate avgas in piston-powered aircraft released a new report this week on lead emissions in its ongoing campaign to remove 100LL from airport pumps. Friends of the Earth says that EPA data shows that piston-engine aircraft using leaded avgas account for about 50 percent of lead emissions in the U.S., with 34,000 tons of lead emitted between 1970 and 2007. The emissions have affected millions of people who live near airports, including children whose schools are within a kilometer of an airport, the report says. They “have demonstrably higher blood lead levels than those further from airports,” FOE says, citing a 2011 Duke University study.

Alternates to 100LL, including unleaded replacement fuels, diesel and hybrid electric, are under development in with the support of engine and aircraft makers. Meanwhile, the FAA is supporting alternate fuel development under its Piston Aviation Fuel Initiative, which has resulted in fuels from Shell and Swift Fuel that began further testing this year, with a new fuel expected to be ready for approval by 2018. Other companies, such as GAMI, also are testing unleaded fuels and their success in the market would depend in part on future regulations on lead, availability and approvals for aircraft use. The FOE report discusses these efforts and argues that along with EPA regulation, alternative fuels, along with mogas, can replace 100LL in the nation’s GA fleet. FOE and other organizations want the government to issue an official “endangerment finding” for 100LL, which would start a process to draft regulations on lead emissions.

Comments (8)

Friends Of The Earth? Oh, spare me. They are a bunch of radical losers who whine loudly so that people send money to them.
They cite a Duke report, yet don't quote from the report. This article is a sham -

Posted by: Pat Barry | September 2, 2016 12:55 PM    Report this comment

Ok, someone check my math here...
34,000 tons of lead X 2000 lbs per ton = 68,000,000 pounds
The United States has about 375,000,000 acres according to Google
So 375,000,000/68,000,000 = 5.5 pounds per acre
5.5 pounds / 37 years (2007-1970) = about fifteen hundreths of a pound of lead per year, per acre.
I'm good with that. Think I'm going to go fly now and spread some lead.

Posted by: JOHN EWALD | September 2, 2016 4:40 PM    Report this comment

Dang it. My math was wrong...and apparently there are 2.3 billion acres of land in the United States, not 375 million (That's just Alaska). So here we go again...

34,000 tons of lead X 2000 lbs per ton - 68,000,000 pounds
68,000,000 pounds of lead / 2,300,000,000 = 2.96 pounds per acre
2.96 pounds / 37 years = .08 lbs (8 one-hundreths of a pound) of lead per year, per acre.
I'll never do math on a public forum again.

Posted by: JOHN EWALD | September 2, 2016 4:54 PM    Report this comment

Another group of nosy busy-bodies that need to get a life while trying to get government to make more laws we don't need. Get government out of aircraft engine certification and let the free market produce powerful, efficient cheap to build and operate aircraft engines that run just fine on readily available car gasoline.

Posted by: bruce postlethwait | September 3, 2016 5:13 PM    Report this comment

Bruce -

Government isn't the problem here. For the last 40 years or so, the free market has failed miserably in getting the lead out of aviation fuel. Back in the 1970s it was the government - not the free market - that got lead out of automobile gasoline and paint. The GA industry got an exemption for itself, and look at what's happened in the mainstream GA world for the last 40 years: nothing, except for the recent government initiative. After decades of dawdling by the GA community, the government finally stepped in with the Piston Alternative Fuels Initiatiave. The government is being careful and deliberate about this effort, because they know that results will have to be perfect in every way, otherwise the GA community won't accept it.

Part of the problem is that the "free market" includes the customers; businesses make and sell what will appeal to their buyers. With the GA market full of people like Messrs. Barry & Ewald above, it's no wonder that the industry has been dragging its feet on the lead issue forever.

And as I understand it (correct me if I'm wrong) no-lead mogas without ethanol will already work OK in smaller planes like the C172. No need for radical developments from the ever-timid Lycoming et al, just a kick in the pants to make unleaded fuel both available and mandatory.

To be fair to GA, this kind of change rarely happens because of free-market forces. The general driving public did not rise up and demand cars that ran on lead-free fuel. And the buying public didn't worry much about lead paint.

Any change like this has to come from the government. The free market won't support changes that benefit the general public but doesn't particularly benefit an individual customer.

Posted by: Rollin Olson | September 4, 2016 3:04 PM    Report this comment

"Friends of the Earth says that EPA data shows that piston-engine aircraft using leaded avgas account for about 50 percent of lead emissions in the U.S"

Which means just how LOW such emissions actually are in the USA today.
Getting rid of another 50% of something that is already been reduced to insignificant levels is laughable.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | September 5, 2016 10:04 AM    Report this comment

I had a friend many years ago who spent his whole life designing and building engines for race cars and aircraft. He worked on Thunder Engine and some others. He loved leaded fuel. He also loved formulating his own race fuels with benzene. I'm sure if he hadn't died of leukemia from all that benzene he absorbed he would be on here blaming environmentalists for taking away his harmless lead.

Posted by: Patrick Wright | September 6, 2016 1:29 AM    Report this comment

I summit that the FOTE and the EPA are both hazardous to EVERYONE'S HEALTH..................What a bunch of losers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Scott Mallard | September 7, 2016 3:51 PM    Report this comment

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