Press Release

Protecting Communities Across California with SB 1193 - Banning the Sale of Leaded Aviation Fuel

There is no safe level of exposure to lead, and exposure is particularly dangerous for children ages 0-6.


SACRAMENTO - Senator Caroline Menjivar (D- San Fernando Valley) introduced Senate Bill 1193 to ban the sale of harmful leaded airplane fuel (known as avgas) in California. Leaded aviation fuel endangers the health of people who live in communities adjacent to airports, particularly the long-term health of children. 

A 2021 study found that children who lived less than a mile away from an airport had 21% higher lead levels in their blood compared to children who lived farther away. Also, when airports are in lower income neighborhoods with higher populations of people of color, emissions are compounded with other environmental hazards concentrated in those areas. 

When I ran for office, one of my main promises to my community was to fight for cleaner air. To hold accountable the polluters who disregard the impacts of their actions in predominantly communities of color, and to push for policy that decreases the amount of pollution statewide,” states Senator Menjivar. “Senate District 20, a Latino-majority district, has 3 airports within approximately 10 miles of each other. The people of San Fernando Valley, and in neighborhoods across California, have had enough. SB 1193 is a necessary step towards mitigating air pollution. We need a strong statewide approach now because where California leads, the nation follows.”

Senate Bill 1193 seeks to:

  • Ban the sale of leaded aviation fuel in disadvantaged communities by January 1st, 2026.
  • Ban the sale of leaded aviation fuel in urban growth areas by January 1st, 2028.
  • Ban the sale of leaded fuel throughout the rest of California by January 1st, 2030.
  • Instruct the Department of Transportation to publish guidance for airport operators to minimize the environmental and public health impacts of lead exposure.

In Senate District 20, there are 3 airports. Van Nuys Airport ranks number 7 among the nation’s highest reported lead emissions. Senator Menjivar held a press conference outside of Whiteman Airport in Pacoima to announce SB 1193. It is estimated that there are 37 daycares and schools within 1 ½ miles of its perimeter.

Community members and environmental justice groups support SB 1193.

“As a parent and resident of Pacoima, it brings me hope and pride that State Senator Caroline Menjivar is listening to our concerns. We need to stop lead pollution and protect communities - especially because we have homes, parks, schools and child care centers on the fence line of our local airport. Residents of underserved communities deserve clean air and freedom from harmful pollution.” - Crystal Diosy Reyes, Founder, VOCES UNIDAS EN PACOIMA

"For far too long, our Pacoima community has been subjected to the polluting activities of recreational aircraft at our local airport. This has been to the detriment of our health, especially the health of our children and pregnant people. By banning the sale of leaded aviation gas, this bill will help relieve much of the immediate effects of lead pollution while we work towards more permanent solutions," - Helen Tran, local Pacoima resident and attorney at the Western Center on Law and Poverty

“A leaded aviation fuel ban is an essential step forward in safeguarding public health and protecting our children from the harmful effects of lead exposure,” said Fatima Iqbal-Zubair, Legislative Affairs Manager, California Environmental Voters. “There is no safe level of exposure to lead and avgas poses a significant risk with irreversible health consequences. By banning the sale of this hazardous aviation fuel and implementing mitigation measures, we're prioritizing the well-being of our communities, especially those already overburdened by environmental hazards. It's beyond time to ensure that every child has the opportunity to grow up in a safe and healthy environment."

In October 2023, the federal Environmental Protection Agency announced its final determination; emissions of lead from aircraft causes or contributes to air pollution and endangers public health under the Clean Air Act. Separate from the EPA’s finding, in 2022 the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced the program, “Eliminate Aviation Gasoline Lead Emissions.” EAGLE aims to achieve a lead-free aviation system no later than 2030.

Leaded aviation fuel is most commonly used in small, piston-engine aircraft and is not used for commercial planes or jets. The FAA has approved unleaded fuels for piston-engine aircraft, but only some airports provide these alternatives.

California phased out the use of leaded gasoline for cars over thirty years ago, and in paint over forty years ago, because of public health risks. It is past time for our state to do the same for leaded aviation fuel. 

SB 1193 will be heard in the relevant policy committee(s) this spring.