The Era of Leaded Petrol Over, Eliminating a Major Threat to Human and Planetary Health

In short, leaded gasoline was a human error that occurred at all levels of our society, Inger Anderson, Executive director of the UNEP

(The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is the leading global voice on the environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising future generations.)

Social changes, including changing our life habits, are time-consuming processes that require patience and tireless pursuit. Improving individuals, communities, multinational corporations, governments, and the international community’s environmental insights and behaviors requires more follow-up and decisive decisions.

There is a lot of bad news these days about climate change and its devastating effects on humans and nature. But there is also good news and hope. Now we want to share one of these good things:

On August 30, 2021, News agencies reported that – When service stations in Algeria stopped providing leaded petrol in July, the use of leaded petrol ended globally. This development follows an almost two-decades-long UNEP-led global Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles (PCFV) campaign.

The United Nations has said that with the cessation of sales of leaded gasoline in Algeria, the toxic fuel, which has polluted water, air, and soil for nearly 100 years, is no longer used in any country in the world.

By the 1980s, most high-income countries had prohibited the use of leaded petrol, yet as late as 2002, almost all low- and middle-income countries, including some Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) members, were still using leaded petrol. The PCFV is a public-private partnership that brought all stakeholders to the table, providing technical assistance, raising awareness, overcoming local challenges and resistance from local oil dealers and producers of lead, as well as investing in refinery upgrades.

The end of leaded petrol is expected to support the realization of multiple Sustainable Development Goals, including good health and well-being (SDG3), clean water (SDG6), clean energy (SDG7), sustainable cities (SDG11), climate action (SDG13), and life on land (SDG15). It also offers an opportunity for restoring ecosystems, especially in urban environments, which have been particularly degraded by this toxic pollutant. Finally, it marks major progress ahead of this year’s International Day of Clean Air for blue skies on September 7.

Hope for the future

While leaded petrol may be gone, air pollution still kills about 7 million people annually. Much of it comes from tailpipe emissions, including small particulates known as PM 2.5 that can penetrate deep into the respiratory tract, causing asthma and heart disease. Ultimately, De Jong says, the world will need to transition to zero-emissions electric vehicles if it wants to conquer air pollution.

Still, observers say the end of leaded petrol is an encouraging step with humanity staring down the barrel of another environmental catastrophe: climate change.

“I’m certainly not a Pollyanna about climate change,” said Walsh. “But at least we can say ‘We solved (the leaded fuel) problem. Let’s do something similar. It gives me hope.”

More information is available here and here