Lead Pollution from Single Engine Piston Aircraft Leaded Fuel


Santa Clara Airport Lead experience

The issue of lead pollution from older piston airplanes has been tackled directly in Santa Clara County

Key takeaways

  • A scientific study by the Mountain Data Group analyzed 17,000 blood samples from children living near Reid Hillview Airport between 2011 and 2020. It found results comparable to the 2014 Flint Water Crisis. “At the height of the Flint water crisis, children’s blood lead levels were between 2 and 3 micrograms per deciliter of lead. That was for a year and a half. We’re at about 2 micrograms per deciliter, ongoing, every day, no relief,” Supervisor Chavez said. The lead is reportedly coming from Reid Hillview Airport’s piston engine airplanes that still use leaded gasoline for fuel, even though it was outlawed for cars decades ago. The lead rains down on the community through droplets of unburned fuel and exhaust.


  • The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to eliminate lead exposure from operations at Reid-Hillview Airport. County lawmakers want to explore prohibiting the sale or use of leaded fuel  

Unleaded Fuel Options

There are unleaded fuel options: Mogas is an unleaded fuel option that many aircraft could use:


And there is a new unleaded fuel option – G100UL:


Oxnard Airport and Leaded Fuel

Oxnard airport’s (OXR) primary use today is as a touch and go training center for pilots located throughout Southern California (~60% of OXR operations in November were touch and goes) The plane of choice for flight schools, clubs and hobbyist pilots currently using OXR for their touch and go trainings are older Cessna piston aircraft that use leaded fuel.

OXR has roughly 55,000 flight operations per year – that equates to over 30,000 touch and go operations a year by piston aircraft using leaded fuels.
Planes flying touch and go patterns at OXR using leaded gas routinely overfly four elementary and one pre-school:  Carl Dwire, McAuliffe Elementary, Marina West Elementary, Juan Lagunas Elementary and ABC pre-school.

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