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New study finds local airports are raising blood lead levels in children

Original post made on Aug 6, 2021

A study has found aircraft traffic around San Jose's Reid-Hillview Airport is contaminating the area with lead, causing a spike in blood lead levels. Other area airports may likely be facing the same issue.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, August 6, 2021, 9:10 AM

Comments (8)

Posted by Chris C.
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 6, 2021 at 9:43 am

Chris C. is a registered user.

The first unleaded fuel for general aviation aircraft has just been approved by the FAA this month. This was announced at EAA AirVenture. Right now this GAMI fuel is only approved for the Cessna 172, but hopefully will be approved for all other planes over the next year.


Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 6, 2021 at 10:04 am

Bystander is a registered user.

As a child I remember the old playgrounds where I played for hours with lead paint on all the structures. I remember the paint peeling off behind the garage in my childhood home. I remember the old oven gloves made of asbestos. I remember walking to school smelling the lead in the exhaust of the traffic as I stood waiting for the lights to change so I could cross, or walking along the road where the lines of cars waiting for the lights to turn green were spewing out their exhaust just feet from my nose.

I remember all those things. I am so thankful that children today do not have those in their lives.


Posted by Eli P
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 6, 2021 at 11:24 am

Eli P is a registered user.

Those studies are motivated by developers who want to build on the grounds of Reid Hillview airport. Did the lead found come from airplanes fuel? Is there comparison with a similar community far from an airport? Airplanes are few, they spend a short time on the ground with engines on and it is not clear how much of that lead reaches humans. It might come from lead deposits on highways and roads from the times that leaded fuel was common. On the other hand airports are being closed around the country like a species that i becoming extinct. They serve the community, especially in disasters and pandemics, they are great recreational facilities. They also leave open space in congested cities. We should strive to remove lead as as we have done with cars but not take commercially motivated "studies" too seriously.


Posted by vmshadle
a resident of Meadow Park
on Aug 6, 2021 at 11:25 am

vmshadle is a registered user.

Given what we know about lead exposure and how long we've known it, it is tragic that we outlawed leaded gasoline for land vehicles decades ago and ignored aircraft until now.


Posted by tmp
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 7, 2021 at 11:07 am

tmp is a registered user.

Developers continue to try to shut down any open space or other use of space that doesn’t allow them to continue to pave over the state. The airport was there first. All developers (and elected representatives who help them) who built homes surrounding the airport area should be held responsible for moving residents as needed and any clean up needed. These are low income areas because who else do you get to live under airfield flight paths and these people have been taken advantage of and will be continually used to try to pressure the closure of this facility.
We need these small airports for emergencies, disaster preparedness and community open spaces. They were here first and deserve priority in usage of the area. Of course we need to continue to remove toxic substances where feasible like in airplane fuel. Developers need to be told that the state is full and to go get another job since they are no longer wanted and are making live unbearable in a very crowded state. Do not close the airport to support developers who should go the way of coal mining.


Posted by JR
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 7, 2021 at 9:09 pm

JR is a registered user.

An investigation is needed to determine whether similar contamination is occurring in Palo Alto due to the Palo Alto Airport, SFO, and SJC planes flying non-stop across city airspace. If such contamination is occurring, traffic needs to be routed 100% over the bay or over the baylands, not over residential areas in the City of Palo Alto. There is especially no reason that planes headed to SFO (two counties north of Santa Clara County) should ever fly below 10,000 feet over Palo Alto airspace.


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 8, 2021 at 2:49 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

One concern for the Palo Alto Airport is that there are groups that want to expand the business base by adding commuter planes and commuter helicopters. That is moving the rationale for the airport from private flyers and flying clubs to commercial entities which would have a non-stop activity level. That should be looked at as it was not the original reason for having the airport. And for the residents it is not a reasonable activity to have non-stop air traffic from multiple sources.


Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 9, 2021 at 4:12 pm

Me 2 is a registered user.

"An investigation is needed to determine whether similar contamination is occurring in Palo Alto due to the Palo Alto Airport, SFO, and SJC planes flying non-stop across city airspace. "

Jet-A, used in turbine engined planes (i.e., most of the passenger aircraft in-and-out of SFO/SJC/OAK) is unleaded. While I agree it would be good to reroute passenger jets away from Palo Alto, leaded fuel is not the right horse on which to ride.


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