Recently, the entire world has banned leaded gasoline. Not only had leaded gasoline caused deaths, but also had raised greenhouse gas emissions. The ban on leaded gasoline is a giant win for society and one can see it as a foundation of other life-threatening fossil fuels, like sulfur in diesel.
Leaded Gasoline in a Nutshell
According to Smithsonian Magazine, Thomas Midgely Jr. created leaded gasoline in the 1920s by adding “tetraethyl lead” to gasoline to reduce the “knocking” sound in cars. People were already aware that tetraethyl lead was poisonous, even before it became a part of gasoline.
Leaded gasoline leads to an abundance of greenhouse gas emissions and is detrimental to the environment. Additionally, both children and adults have seen negative health side effects when exposed to leaded gasoline. Children exposed to lead can experience anemia, cancer, low IQ, learning disability, anemia and nerve damage. The Environmental and Energy Study Institute showed that gasoline exposure in adults has led to cardiovascular disease, cancer, hypertension and more. Both children and adults have either entered hospitals and/or died due to leaded gasoline.
Countries Ban Leaded Gasoline
In August 2021, Algeria was officially the last country to ban leaded gasoline. There has been a long-lasting humanitarian struggle to ban leaded gasoline throughout different countries. The first country to ban leaded gasoline was Japan in the 1980s. Then, other developed countries had followed, including Austria, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Germany and the United States. During the 2000s until the 2020s, 117 more countries, developed and developing, pushed to ban leaded gasoline.
Bribes, Finance and the Holdouts for Ban on Leaded Gasoline
Some countries, such as Indonesia, were guilty of receiving bribes from leaded gasoline oil industries. However, Indonesia finally banned leaded gasoline.
“By 2016 only Algeria, Yemen, and Iraq were holdouts,” said National Geographic. Yemen is the poorest country in the world, Iraq is under development and Algeria’s citizens are destitute. Leaded gasoline is more inexpensive than unleaded gasoline. Additionally, leaded gasoline companies were reportedly sending bribes to countries to encourage them to continue using leaded gasoline. It is clear to see why some countries took much longer to ban leaded gasoline than other countries.
Ban of Leaded Gasoline Everywhere is a Huge Win
There are an estimated 1.2 million people who die from leaded gasoline each year. The hospital rates are even higher. Now that there is a ban on leaded fuel, “The fuel’s elimination will save $2.45 trillion a year, UNEP estimates, reflecting the economic side of lives and nature saved,” said Geneva SolutionsInger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP. Andersen also described the ban as a huge milestone for the environment.
What the Ban means for Other Fossil Fuels
Now that the world has banned leaded gasoline, there have already been results of a cleaner earth, and better health. Yet, there are still hazardous fossil fuels. Companies are putting sulfur in diesel, burning coal and adding other additives to gasoline, all of which can cause greenhouse gas emissions and negative health effects. Additionally, some aviation still uses leaded gasoline.
However, now that results are showing the benefits of banning toxic fuels, the government and other organizations can give a better focus on banning other harmful fuels. Countries, especially developing countries, that are worried about the financial loss, can view the money they have saved from leaded gasoline as reassurance that banning fossil fuels is the right move. The ban on leaded gasoline is a huge win for the planet, but the fight for a better world is not over.
– Sydney Littlejohn