The World Has Finally Stopped Using Leaded Gasoline. Algeria Used The Last Stockpile

Enlarge this image

In December 1955, a man posts a price for leaded gasoline at a station in Everett, Massachusetts. The United Nations said on Monday that the world is no longer using the toxic fuel, bringing an end to a century of damaging pollution.

Anonymous/Associated Press


hide caption

toggle caption

Anonymous/Associated Press


Science
How The U.S. Could Halve Climate Emissions By 2030

A toxic breakthrough

In 1921, researchers at General Motors discovered that adding a compound called tetraethyl lead to gasoline could improve engine performance. (Not-so-fun fact: Thomas Midgley Jr., a scientist who played a key role in what proved to be a calamitous discovery, also developed chlorofluorocarbons, a class of refrigerants that went on to damage the ozone layer.)

There were other additives that could serve the same purpose — today, ethanol is widely used as a far safer alternative. But lead quickly became the standard.

Enlarge this image

Gasoline containing ethanol is on sale in Des Moines, Iowa, in July 2013. Today, ethanol is one of the gasoline additives that serve the same purpose that tetraethyl lead once did.

Charlie Riedel/AP


hide caption

toggle caption

Charlie Riedel/AP


Business
Boom Or Bubble? Skeptics Take Aim At Buzzy Electric Vehicle Market

That turned out to be disastrously false. Children, in particular, are vulnerable to even minute amounts of lead exposure, and the use of leaded gasoline has been linked to lower IQs and higher rates of violent crime. Lead exposure also causes heart disease, cancer and other diseases, and when burned in an engine, lead can easily contaminate air, water and soil.

It took decades for scientists to establish the damage that leaded gasoline was causing. By that point, virtually all the gasoline in the world had lead added to it.

Developed countries phased it out first

In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency started an effort to phase out leaded gasoline in 1973. Starting in the 1970s, new vehicles were designed to run on unleaded gasoline. In fact, the new cleaner generation of cars couldn’t run on leaded gasoline — it would destroy their catalytic converters.

The new unleaded gasoline was more expensive, but the transition was unstoppable.

By the mid-’80s, most gasoline used in the U.S. was unleaded, although leaded gasoline for passenger cars wasn’t fully banned in the U.S. until 1996. (Today, leaded fuel can be used only in aircraft and off-road vehicles.)

Most other high-income countries followed suit.

But in much of the developing world, leaded gasoline continued to be in widespread use at the turn of the millennium. So in 2002, UNEP launched an effort to work with governments and industry to phase out leaded fuel everywhere.

Enlarge this image

Cars line up at a gas station in New York City on Dec. 23, 1973.

Marty Lederhandler/Associated Press


hide caption

toggle caption

Marty Lederhandler/Associated Press


Environment
What The U.S. Can Do About The Dire Climate Change Report

But unlike with leaded gasoline, he says, a «two-track» approach won’t work for climate. With leaded gasoline, rich countries cleaned up their air decades before the rest of the planet did and were able to ignore the fact that lead pollution continued in poorer countries.

«Climate change is global,» he said. «You’ll still be affected by climate change if we don’t fix the whole global fleet.»

  • leaded gasoline
  • leaded gas
  • gas
  • gasoline
  • United Nations

admin

Добавить комментарий