Lead Poisoning in America

February 9, 2016

New York Times Editorial by Nicholas Kristof on Nationwide Epidemic of Lead Poisoning

A February 6, 2016 editorial by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof explores the tragedy and social injustice of Flint's lead tainted water crisis. He further reports that nationwide more than a half million children between the ages of 1 and 5 suffer from lead poisoning. Many are low income children of color. Per the article,

"In Flint, 4.9 percent of children tested for lead turned out to have elevated levels. That's inexcusable. But in 2014 in New York State outside of New York City, the figure was 6.7 percent. In Pennsylvania, 8.5 percent. On the west side of Detroit, one-fifth of the children tested in 2014 had lead poisoning. In Iowa for 2012, the most recent year available, an astonishing 32 percent of children tested had elevated lead levels. (I calculated most of these numbers from C.D.C. data.)"

To access the article in full click on the following link: America Is Flint.

Aviation and Lead Emissions

More than 50 percent of airborne lead nationwide is emitted by the aviation industry, which continues to rely on lead based fuel for piston engine general aviation aircraft. In Oregon, Port of Portland owned and operated airports are major facility sources of lead pollution. In fact PDX, Hillsboro, and Troutdale combined release well over a ton of lead into the air each year. Of the three, Hillsboro Airport (HIO), which primarily serves the flight training industry, is the biggest offender. Among nearly 20,000 airports nationwide, HIO ranks 21st in lead emissions.

According to the 2011 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) National Emissions Inventory (NEI) there are 509 facility sources of lead in Oregon, 417 are airports.

The 2011 EPA NEI further reveals that airports are the number one source of lead emissions in all but 5 of Oregon's 36 counties. The exceptions are as follows:

  • Yamhill County - of the 20 facility sources of lead listed all but 2 are airports. McMinnville Airport ranks second to Cascade Steel.
  • Douglas County - of the 27 facility sources of lead, 20 are airports. Roseburg Regional Airport ranks second to Riddle Plywood
  • Gilliam County - of the 5 facility sources listed Columbia Ridge Landfill and Recycling Center is number 1, Condon County Pauling Field, a state owned airport is second.
  • Lincoln County - of the 9 facility sources of lead all are airports except 1, Newport Municipal Airport ranks second to Toledo Pulp and Paper Plant in lead emissions.
  • Morrow County - of the 6 facility sources of lead listed, 3 are airports. PGE Boardnman is the number one facility source and Lexington Airport ranks second.

In the 8 counties discussed below there are 160 lead sources, 129 are airports.

Washington County
22 facility sources of lead, all but one are airports. The flight training airports - Hillsboro, Starks Twin Oaks and Skyport - are among the worst offenders and are ranked the first, second and fourth, respectively. Hillsboro Airport emits more lead than any other facility source in the entire state.
Multnomah County
33 facility sources of lead, 15 are airports. The number one facility source of lead emissions in this jurisdiction is the Troutdale Airport. Owens-Brockway Glass Container ranks second and Portland International Airport is third.
Clackamas County
31 facility sources of lead. All but 2 are airports. The state of Oregon owned and operated Mulino Airport holds the top spot.
Columbia County
9 facility sources of lead, 5 are airports. Scappoose Airpark is number one emitter in this jurisdiction and the seventh largest facility source of lead in the entire state.
Clark County
24 facility sources of lead, all but 3 are airports with Pearson Field holding the top spot.
Yamhill County
20 facility sources of lead, all but 2 are airports. McMinnville Municipal is number two on the list. Cascade Steel is number one.
Marion County
25 facility sources of lead, all but 2 are airports. The state owned and operated Aurora Airport is the worst offender in this jurisdiction. This airport is the sixth largest facility source of lead in the state.
Deschutes County
20 facility sources of lead, all but 2 are airports. Bend Municipal Airport holds the top spot followed by Roberts Field. Bend Municipal is the fifth largest facility source of lead in the state.
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