SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — In the South Bay, the ongoing battle over the fate of Reid-Hillview Airport in San Jose is getting attention from the federal government.  Several years ago, a study commissioned by Santa Clara County found elevated levels of lead in the blood of children living near the airport.  

In response, the county banned the sale of leaded fuel at the airport a little over a year ago. But if a pilot purchases leaded fuel somewhere else they can still land and take off at the airport.

That has raised concerns that the use of leaded fuel could still be causing health problems for neighbors. Thursday, some of Santa Clara County’s top elected officials called on the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration to do more to address the problem.

“If you can land and take off with leaded fuel, you are going to pollute the children of this community,” said Representative Zoe Lofgren.

In a statement to KRON4 on Thursday, the FAA said they are working to move the country away from leaded aviation fuel, saying, “Just last week, the FAA cleared the way for an unleaded aviation fuel to be used throughout the nation’s fleet of piston-powered aircraft–a major step forward.”

The statement was welcome news, but the county says the faa should move faster. “I’m finally glad we got a statement, but it should take press conferences and hearings to get the FAA to move,” said Representative Ro Khanna.

“This is the last sector in transportation where leaded fuel is still allowed. we don’t have it in commercial aviation. We don’t have it in automobiles. It needs to stop,” Lofgren said.

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The FAA says they are also committed to working with Santa Clara County to have safe, lead-free operations at the airport. As things stand right now, Reid-Hillview could eventually be shut down. It relies on federal funding to operate, and the county voted several years ago to stop accepting FAA grants to keep it open. Currently, federal funding is set to run out in 2031.