SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) – A community meeting was held Wednesday night for an East San Jose neighborhood concerned about the impact the Reid-Hillview Airport may be having on kids.

Earlier this month, a study was released claiming a direct link between the fuel used at the airport and lead poisoning of young children.

Dr. Sammy Zahran, the lead doctor of the study, presented the results and answered many questions. Zahran equates what’s going on here at Reid-Hillview Airport to the water crisis that took place in Flint, Michigan but in some cases, he points out it’s even worse.

Roughly 170,000 piston engine aircraft fly in and out of Reid-Hillview Airport every year. According to the recently-conducted lead study, those planes use tens of millions of gallons of fuel containing lead.

While the Flint water crisis lasted about a year and half, Zahran said the east San Jose neighborhood has been exposed to lead for years.

“At Reid-Hillview, the release of lead, the lived environment is continuous, nonstop. A daily unabated flow of an undeniable, harmful toxin,” Zahran said.

The study collected blood lead level samples from more than 17,000 children living within a mile and a half of the airport. It found the children closest to the airport, and especially those living to the east, tested 25% higher.

Research continued through the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, as air traffic dropped up to 44%. Doctors said during that time, blood lead levels dropped as well.

Dr. Bruce Lanphear with Simon Fraser University said, “The Reid-Hillview Airport endangers the lives of people who live around the airport, especially children. Their report is one of the most thorough and conclusive reports I’ve read in my career.”

Manuel Diaz lives directly east of the airport and wonders how it could be impacting his children. “We’re really close to the airport. I’m concerned now,” Diaz told KPIX 5.

Walt Gyger, the owner of Trade Winds Aviation flight school, said lead in aviation fuel is being phased out and hopes the airport will stay open.

Gyger adds, “For about 90% of the fleet, we can use unleaded fuel, which is good, because we like it. We don’t like lead either.”

Another community meeting is scheduled on Thursday. Meanwhile, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors will discuss the study at a meeting next Tuesday.