Better World Club

Thursday, October 30, 2008

BWC Members Demanded it, and the EPA Complied:

They Got the Lead Out (Of the Air We Breathe)

However, New, Stricter Lead Emissions Standards Aren't Being Enforced the Way they Should

It's no secret that lead isn't good for you. Ingestion of lead can cause nerve damage, slow brain and nervous system development; it can affect the cardiovascular system, kidney function, the immune system, and the reproductive system.

Despite all this, national pollution standards for lead had not changed since 1978. The EPA has finally come out with an updated ruling on lead emissions standards, reducing the allowable amount from 1.5 micrograms of lead per cubic meter to 0.15 micrograms.

We're proud to say that Better World Club members helped the EPA reach this decision.

Just two years ago, the EPA even considered delisting lead as a pollutant altogether. Once again, Better World Club members made their voices heard and let the EPA know what a bad idea that was.

It's great that lead standards have been tightened based on science instead of the wishes of entrenched special interests (yes, we're talking about you, Battery Council International). However, the new ruling does have some controversial aspects.

The first version of the new rule stated that any facility that emitted a half a ton of lead or more per year would need to be monitored. The White House Office of Management and Budget objected to this standard and forced the EPA to back away from it. The final version of the EPA's ruling doubles that standard, allowing lead-emitting facilities to spew up to one ton of lead per year without monitoring.

So while we're pleased that EPA Administrator, Stephen L. Johnson, listened to his own scientists (and BWC members!) and tightened lead emissions standards, we're not so pleased with the watered-down way the new rule is being implemented.

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  • I am curious about the regulations for Aviation Fuel (AvGas) which currently is called 100 octane Low-Lead (100LL) and is vital for the continued safety of flight. Most piston aircraft engine in service, many fifty years old or more (like mine) require lead in the fuel to operate safely. Any regulation that would eliminate the minute amount of lead from 100LL AvGas could lead to in-flight engine failures and injury or death to aircraft occupants and victims on the ground.
    New engine designs are slow to come to market due the complexities of FAA certification (and rightly so, to ensure safety of flight) but there are developments that will make future piston aircraft 'greener' and maintain high safety standards. But we must not ground or unfairly burden the several hundred thousand existing aircraft that depend on 100LL for safe operation.
    Glen G.
    Beaverton OR

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At October 31, 2008 at 9:54 AM  

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