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Hillsboro Airport pollution gets national attention

The Natural Resources Defense Council has taken up the cause of air pollution traced to the use of leaded gasoline by planes based at the Hillsboro Airport.

Oregon Aviation Watch, led by activist Miki Barnes, has been trying to draw attention to the problem. The airport ranks 21st out of nearly 20,000 U.S. airports in lead emissions, according to Barnes.

The airport, owned by the Port of Portland, is used mostly for business flights, small personal planes or flight training. Lead is banned from automotive fuel and not added to jet fuel, but many small planes still use leaded fuel.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, lead is added to the fuel because it boosts octane levels and prevents unsafe valve-seat wear.Though the lead might make it safer to fly the small planes, the lead emissions are a serious health risk, according to the Mayo Clinic. Lead inhalation harms brain development as well as the kidneys and nervous system. Children are especially vulnerable to long-term health problems.

The article, entitled “Something in the Air,” appeared Sept. 3 in OnEarth, the Natural Resources Defense Council magazine, or at: www.onearth.org/articles/2013/08/aiplanes-flying-on-leaded-gasoline-are-still-poisoning-us.