Finally, finally... the FAA just approved an unleaded fuel for small aircraft. Yup, for all these years that other vehicles had switched to unleaded gas, small aircraft had no unleaded alternative. (Jet aircraft used for commercial transport do not use fuel containing lead.)
Unleaded gas was introduced in the United States in the 1970s, and this was because it was apparent the lead in gas was causing health problems (e.g., lower IQ in children, neurological effects, kidney damage). Leaded gas was completely phased out in on-road vehicles as of January 1, 1996 (with the passage of the Clean Air Act).
But even now, leaded fuel still fuels about 170,000 piston-engine airplanes and helicopters, typically small aircraft that carry 2-10 passengers. Jet aircraft used for commercial transport do not operate on a fuel containing lead. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), emissions of lead from aircraft using leaded aviation gas (avgas) makes up the largest remaining "source of lead emissions to air in the U.S."
This is air pollution! It is especially problematic for people living, working, or attending school near airports. Tiny lead particles (from the air) land near the airports, and can even be seen as a layer of "grey film" coating cars and other surfaces on everything near the airports.
Excerpts from Axios: Small airplanes are finally switching to unleaded fuel
Cessnas, Pipers and other small airplanes — now the largest U.S. lead emitters — are on the verge of a historic shift to unleaded fuel. ...continue reading "Small Airplanes Will Finally Use Unleaded Fuel"