Categories: Health & Fitness

Children near airports may be exposed to dangerous levels of lead

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If living near an airport exposes you to obvious noise pollution, other health problems result from this exposure. According to a study published in the journal PNAS Nexus, children living near a California airport had higher blood lead levels.

In the United States, leaded gasoline is used by approximately 170,000 piston engine aircraft. Today, the use of leaded aviation gasoline accounts for up to two-thirds of lead emissions in the United States. According to a survey conducted by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, four million people live within 800 meters of an airport that has piston engine aircraft. About 600 elementary or secondary schools are located near these facilities.

A higher blood lead

In this study, researchers analyzed the blood lead levels of children under the age of six over a 10-year period who lived near one of these airports. “Researchers found that the likelihood of a child living near Reid-Hillview Airport having blood lead levels above the California Department of Public Health’s threshold of 4.5 micrograms per deciliter increased as blood lead levels increased. ‘child lived near the airport,’ the authors report in a statement. The researchers also note that blood lead levels were much higher when the children lived east of the airport – due to the impact of the wind. The latter were then 2.18 times more likely to present higher blood lead at the worrying level.

“In one set of tests, we find consistent evidence that the blood lead levels of children residing near the airport are being driven up by the deposition of leaded aviation gasoline. This indicates that we should support political efforts to limit lead emissions of aviation in order to protect the well-being of children at risk,” summarized the article’s lead author, Sammy Zahran.

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