Clean Air Watch
1090 Vermont Avenue, NW, Suite 800Washington, DC 20005
For Immediate Release Contact: Frank O’Donnell (202-558-3527 or
EPA: NASCAR LEAD FUMES MAY POSE `SERIOUS’ RISK;
CLEAN AIR WATCH URGES MONITORING OF EMISSIONS
(Washington, DC. January 18, 2006) – Noting that an Environmental Protection Agency report warns of possible “serious health risks” from NASCAR leaded gasoline fumes, the non-profit Clean Air Watch is urging the agency to begin
checking for toxic lead in the air at NASCAR races.
The EPA warning came in a draft report that was quietly issued last month. The report, a compendium of health information about lead pollution, noted that NASCAR vehicles have been exempted from the ban on leaded gasoline. EPA scientists cautioned that the combustion of leaded gasoline during NASCAR events “likely” increases airborne lead concentrations in nearby areas.
“This may pose a serious health risk to some subpopulations such as residents living in the vicinity of racetracks, fuel attendants, racing crew and staff, and spectators,” the agency document warns.
Separately, researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine have found elevated levels of lead in the blood of 40 percent of a tested NASCAR team.
Noting these developments, Clean Air Watch is urging the EPA to begin monitoring for lead in the air at NASCAR races.
“As the EPA itself has reported, lead causes damage to the kidneys, liver, brain and nerves, and other organs,” Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, noted in a January 13, 2006 letter to EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson.
“Even low levels of lead damage the brain and nerves in fetuses and young children, resulting in learning deficits and lowered IQ.”
O’Donnell noted that because of the extraordinarily toxic nature of lead, “most of the world has moved to eliminate its use in gasoline,” including sub-Saharan Africa.
“Unfortunately, the health protections given to those in sub-Saharan Africa are not shared by children and others attending NASCAR events or living near race tracks,” O’Donnell added.
He called on Johnson to include funding for the monitoring program in EPA’s upcoming budget request to Congress, saying the program “would either document the concerns raised by the agency, or put those concerns to rest.”
The letter to EPA, the EPA study, and an abstract of the Indiana study are available on the Clean Air Watch website at http://www.blogforcleanair.blogspot.com/