In a November 16 news release, the EPA determined that 16 areas across the country are not meeting the agency’s national air quality standards for lead. These areas, located in 11 states, were designated as “nonattainment” because their 2007 to 2009 air quality monitoring data showed that they did not meet the agency’s health-based standards. Areas designated today as not meeting the standard will need to develop and implement plans to reduce pollution to meet the lead standards. Nonattainment areas must meet the standards by Dec. 31, 2015.
There will be a second round of designations in October 2011 so if you’re not on the list now, that doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. Most designations have been deferred because there is not enough data yet to make a determination. This is the case in areas with lead associated with aviation gasoline (LL100). Monitoring stations near airports have not been in place long enough to provide conclusive data. When looking at the data currently available, AOPA President and CEO Craig L. Fuller commented, “The entire general aviation community took a very hard look at the data the EPA presented and the questions they asked and concluded that our best input to EPA is to suggest that neither the situation nor their own findings suggest an endangerment finding is warranted.”
This is likely to change when additional data is reviewed. Evidence of this is the listing of general aviation gasoline in the November 16 news release as a source of lead in the air along with smelters and iron and steel foundries. EPA has made their determination and has set out to prove it with data expected next year from air quality monitoring being conducted around airports. Everyone from the EPA to the Avgas Coalition to General Aviation businesses knows this so the search for a replacement for unleaded Avgas continues.