Miguel Alarcon stands in Hillview Park, a block from the house where he once lived near Reid-Hillview Airport
With rent costing more than $3,200 on average for a three-bedroom home in San Jose, many working-class people like Miguel Alarcon have been forced into making a wrenching decision: pay more affordable rent but endure poorer air quality.
That’s because Reid-Hillview is one of 13,000 so-called general aviation airports, from which leaded-fuel piston-engine aircraft fly. While leaded gasoline was fully phased out in 1996 with the passage of the Clean Air Act, it still fuels a fleet of 170,000 piston-engine airplanes and helicopters. Leaded aviation fuel, or avgas, now makes up “the largest remaining aggregate source of lead emissions to air in the U.S.,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
The presence of this fuel means the areas near these airports are often inundated with tiny lead particles, according to a 2020 report from the EPA. Lead has been proven to have a detrimental impact on children’s brains and nervous systems.
Understand this. There is NO SAFE LIMIT for lead in children’s brains and nervous systems.