There is now no country in the world that uses leaded petrol for cars and lorries, the UN Environment Programme has announced.
Not only had the toxic fuel contaminated air, soil and water for almost a century it had also been linked to problems with brain development in children, higher rates of violent crime, heart disease and cancers.
By the 1980s, it had been banned in most high-income countries but it was only in July this year that Algeria used up its last stockpile of leaded gasoline.
The United Nations estimates that the global phaseout of the toxic fuel has saved $2.44 trillion per year, thanks to improved health and lower crime rates, and prevented more than 1.2 million premature deaths. UN Secretary-General António Guterres called the eradication of leaded petrol an “international success story.”
Lead started being added to petrol in the early 1920s in order to improve engine performance. Even though it was known to be poisonous it quickly became the standard as researchers working for automakers and oil said that low levels of lead exposure would be harmless. Lead continued to be added to all petrol globally until the 1970s when richer countries started phasing it out only after the danger of leaded gasoline became well established.
In the early 2000s, however, there were still 86 nations using leaded petrol. North Korea, Myanmar and Afghanistan stopped selling leaded petrol by 2016, leaving only a handful of countries, including Iraq, Yemen and Algeria, still providing the toxic fuel.
The UN’s environmental body Unep has worked with governments, private companies and civic groups to end the use of leaded petrol since 2002.
“Leaded fuel illustrates in a nutshell the kind of mistakes humanity has been making at every level of our societies,” Inger Andersen, Unep executive director, said.
But, she added, eradicating the fuel shows that “humanity can learn from and fix mistakes that we’ve made.”
From : pk.mashable.com