Last Nation to Use Leaded Gas in Cars Calls It Quits

Move by Algeria ends an era
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 30, 2021 11:43 AM CDT
Last Nation to Use Leaded Gas in Cars Calls It Quits
A 2010 photo of a traffic jam in Algiers, Algeria. The nation was the last to sell leaded gasoline for cars, and it has now stopped.   (AP Photo/Anis Belghoul, file)

Leaded gasoline has finally reached the end of the road—the last country in the world to use it has stopped selling the highly toxic fuel. Algeria halted the sale of leaded gas last month, prompting the UN Environment Agency to declare the “official end” of its use in cars, which has been blamed for a wide range of human health problems. “The successful enforcement of the ban on leaded petrol is a huge milestone for global health and our environment,” UNEP's executive director, Inger Andersen, said in a statement. Petroleum containing tetraethyllead, a form of lead, was first sold almost 100 years ago to increase engine performance.

The fuel was widely used for decades until researchers discovered that it could cause heart disease, strokes, and brain damage. UNEP cited studies suggesting that leaded gas caused measurable intellectual impairment in children and millions of premature deaths. Most rich nations started phasing out the fuel in the 1980s but it was still widely used in low- and middle-income countries until 2002, when the UN launched a global campaign to abolish it. Leaded gas is still used in aviation fuel for small planes. (More Algeria stories.)

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