CALIFORNIA LULAC CALLS FOR URGENT ACTION TO PROTECT LATINO COMMUNITIES FROM TOXIC LEAD EXPOSURE
Chapter of Nation's Oldest and Largest Latino Civil Rights Organization Says Continued Use of Leaded Aviation Fuel Is Hurting Our Health
September 13, 2023
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Washington, DC – California LULAC stands united with other state and national community groups in its commitment to environmental justice, public health, and the well-being of Latino communities. The statewide chapter is urgently calling upon its members, allies, and concerned citizens to join in taking action to combat the insidious and persistent threat of leaded aviation fuel (avgas) and demand FAA Reauthorization not require the sale of leaded fuel.
"LULAC calls on its members to contact their Senators to demand FAA Reauthorization not require the sale of leaded fuel," says Jacob Sandoval, CA LULAC State Director. "We must ensure our long-fought and hard-won progress toward a shift to unleaded fuel and electric alternatives is not lost. Congress is expected to act on the FAA bill this month as the reauthorization passed in 2018 expires at the end of September," he adds.
Furthermore, this pollution disproportionately impacts communities of color and lower-income populations, as the majority of the 20,000 airports nationwide that are sources of ongoing lead air pollution are located in areas with predominantly minority populations. It is clear that avgas use is a glaring example of environmental injustice.
As Jose Barrera, LULAC National Vice President for the Far West has stated, "There's absolutely no excuse for mandating the sale of leaded avgas. LULAC members are stunned and angry that Congress refuses to listen to scientists while claiming to care about our families and the environment. They don't care. They don't care because our families are brown, plain and simple. Neither party can claim to be above racism. Refusing to shift from leaded fuel is proof of that."
Serena Alvarez, Esq, President of San Jose LULAC Council 3090, emphasizes the disproportionate impact of leaded avgas on minority communities: "Nearly 100% of the 52,000 people living within 1.5 miles of Reid-Hillview Airport in East San Jose, CA identify as nonwhite, with roughly 80% speaking a primary language other than English at home. Leaded avgas is a serious environmental and racial injustice. There's absolutely no excuse for mandating the sale of leaded avgas."
The continued use of leaded avgas poses an ongoing environmental and public health crisis. Despite the phase-out of lead from automobile gasoline over 50 years ago, aviation gasoline still contains tetraethyl lead, with 100LL avgas containing up to 2.12 grams of lead per gallon. According to the EPA, lead emissions from piston-powered aircraft, primarily from 100LL combustion, are the largest single lead source in recent years, accounting for 70 percent of the nation's lead air pollution in 2017.
Sandoval underscores the dire situation: "Health disparities and elevated blood lead levels among young children are unconscionable. A century is far too long to wait for an end to lead pollution, and we demand Congress stop it now. We must take action and speak up for children and their families."