Mettetal Flight School, Flight Training, or Flying Classes all Spell “Lead Poisoning”

Mettetal Flight School, Flight Training, or Flying Classes all Spell “Lead Poisoning” to an unsuspecting community!

Update May 2019:

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Health hazard evaluation report #20042888  Exposures to LEAD and other metals at an aircraft repair and flight school facility (pdf) found that:

  • Tetraethyl Lead [toxnet manual search]  dust was found on toys and a baby walker in the work area.
  • Lead was detected in blood samples collected from all facility personnel. The hangar area had the highest surface concentrations of lead; lead was also found on the steering wheel of an employee’s car.
  • Employees should use disposable shoe covers and on-site laundering for work clothes to reduce the potential for take-home lead contamination. Investigators also advised that children not be allowed in work areas. Employees were encouraged to wash their hands thoroughly before eating and drinking, before and after putting on gloves, and before leaving the facility.
  • Do not eat or drink in the hangar area.
  • In homes with a family member exposed to lead, care must be taken to prevent “take home” of lead, that is, lead carried into the home on clothing, skin, hair, and in vehicles. Lead-contaminated surface dust represents a potential source of lead exposure, particularly for young children.
  • NOTE: keep in mind the CDC has since eliminated the term “blood lead level of concern” used in this report and declared there is NO safe level of lead in children’s blood.

A related May 2003 (!) Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University [wikipedia] thesis Controlling Lead Exposure During the Process of Cleaning Aviation Spark Plugs (html) (pdf) explores controlling the lead bromide particulate matter after it is removed from the spark plug electrode. Various control methods and/or procedural changes are discussed that may be employed to control the spread of lead bromide dust throughout the shop environment and the prevention of employee exposure to lead.

The old run down airport at 8550 North Lilley Road Canton, MI 48187 is simply known as Mettetal. The more official name is 1d2 Canton-Plymouth Mettetal airport. Mettetal has never had a permanent FBO or flight school offering airplane Rentals or Flight Instruction or any type of flying classes for pilots that are actually based in Canton Township or Plymouth Michigan.

Any pilot training or aviation related classes at Mettetal have been based out of other communities such as Ann Arbor or Jackson. This is basically done to take advantage of the “unattended airport” status and pretty much make up their own rules as they go along, and avoid any responsibility for their actions in another community, and leave at the end of the day.

As far as “Lead Poisoning” goes, Aviation Maintenance Magazine published a September 2014 article Reducing Lead Exposure in Aircraft Maintenance Employees (subscription required for full article) that states “In 2012 the owners of an aircraft repair facility [MRO] and flight school (flying lessons or flight instruction) contacted the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to request a Health Hazard Evaluation. NIOSH is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and focuses on workplace safety and health.

The “lead poisoning” evaluation was requested after blood tests revealed detectable lead levels in all four of the employees and a high blood lead level in a one-year-old child who was often brought to the workplace and exposed to lead dust deposits on engine parts and external surfaces of the aircraft. Mechanics working on aircraft or in facilities that use leaded avgas are also at risk for lead exposure through ingestion and inhalation of lead particles.

Ingestion occurs when hands touch contaminated surfaces and are not washed before eating, allowing lead particles to enter the body on food. Inhalation of lead dust can occur if employees breathe air from exhaust plumes or if lead dust that has already settled on the ground is lifted into the air. Exposure to tetraethyl lead can occur if employees inhale avgas fumes or get the fuel on their skin.”

The EPA, and many others have found that communities living near airports using leaded 100LL aviation avgas fuel, children attending school near these airports such as Mettetal, airplane pilots, student-trainees and passengers are all at risk of exposure to lead emissions from these GA aircraft and helicopters. Sixteen million people live and 3 million children go to school near airports emitting lead from 100LL leaded aviation avgas fuel.

The Canton Plymouth area is trying to attract high tech software engineers and automotive engineering talent to work on autonomous vehicles, but nobody wants to move near Mettetal, or have their children attend school at Plymouth-Canton Community Schools PCCS, that are being covered in Lead Dust from emissions by helicopters or aircraft using 100LL leaded aviation fuel. 100LL is exclusively used at Mettetal.

Read more about Lead Poisoning, and more about the many Safety issues, additionally see the Timeline section for a complete list of safety incidents, crashes, and fatalities.

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