Jim Rada, Director of Environmental Health Services at Jefferson County Public Health, said aircraft and airports using leaded gasoline has beed used for decades. As to what the Public Health department can do? Not much.
He described a demand by concerned community members to have an environmental assessment for the airport.
“That is not something that the health department does. We don’t have resources or expertise or authority for that matter to do any kind of an environmental assessment around the airport,” he said.
Charlene Willey of the Save Our Skies Alliance said she contacted the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and was told in a roundabout way they can’t do anything about the lead.
“I don’t think they want to do anything about it,” she said.
However, the process of analyzing whether lead is affecting those around the airport could start with the community members.
“If the folks in that vicinity of the airport were to have their child’s blood lead levels tested, we could do follow up work through our communicable disease group,” Rada said. “If there’s multiple people showing elevated blood lead levels, in that case, the State Health Department’s environmental epidemiology group would likely be involved.”
Rada said he was unsure of the airport traffic and other variables that can go into lead coming from the airplanes. However, he noted an important piece of toxicology.
“Toxicology involves how an individual’s exposed and how frequently and how much and for what duration and to really have an effect,” he said. “The fact that it’s being emitted from the engines of those planes doesn’t mean that people are being exposed to it.”
When asked if the concerns are an overreaction, he said he doesn’t know — and neither do many people — because there has been no specific study done on Rocky Mountain Metropolitian Airport.
“Unless there’s a lot of additional study done, it’s going to be hard to determine if there’s really a problem or not,” he said.
Tracy Kraft-Tharp, District 1 County Commissioner for Jefferson County, and Paul Anslow, director of Rocky Mountain Metropolitian Airportsaid they would support a study to be done on RMMA, potentially from a researcher at a Colorado university.