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Santa Clara County Supervisors unanimously approved a measure Tuesday to close the Reid-Hillview Airport, two weeks after the release of a study that found elevated lead levels in children from the neighborhoods near the airport in East San Jose.
The soonest the airport could close is January and will require the approval of the Federal Aviation Administration, according to a news release issued Wednesday by the office of Supervisor Cindy Chavez, who represents the area.
The airport serves small, private planes — which produce far more lead pollution than larger commercial aircraft — and is much closer to homes than most airports. The vote comes after a decades-long effort by nearby residents to close the airport.
Supervisors also voted to pursue converting the airport to lead-free fuel as soon as possible.
On Monday, officials from the Community and Airport Partnership for Safe Operation, a nonprofit committed to keeping Reid-Hillview open, said unleaded fuel would be introduced for the airport’s general aviation aircraft.
Released Aug. 3, the study was sponsored by the county and the California Department of Public Health and analyzed 17,000 blood samples taken from local children between 2011 and 2020. Researchers said the children’s lead levels compared with those found in children who drank contaminated drinking water in Flint, Michigan, at the height of that city’s lead-poisoning crisis.
Lead is linked elevated levels of lead in blood with impaired cognitive development, poor academic achievement and many other health risks.
The county had already begun taking steps to close the airport in 2031, the soonest date allowed under the terms of the airport’s current grants from the FAA.
“This is about environmental justice, public health and equity for the 52,000 residents living around Reid-Hillview Airport,” said Supervisor Chavez.