Phase Out of Leaded Gasoline

Phase Out of Leaded Gasoline

The Clean Air Act of 1970 gave the government the power to better regulate gasoline. In 1973, the EPA mandated the production of unleaded gasoline as a means of protecting catalytic converters, devices used to limit the pollutant emissions of automobiles. (Leaded gasoline proved completely incompatible with the devices.)  The phase out of leaded gasoline didn’t begin until 1976, with further reductions in 1985 and 1986. The 1990 amendments to the Clean Air Act required the complete elimination of lead from gasoline by 1996.

Cry Wolf Quotes

the essential thing necessary to safely handle [tetraethyl lead] was careful discipline of our men…[tetraethyl lead] becomes dangerous due to carelessness of the men in handling it.

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Thomas Midgley Jr. vice president of General Motors. 1920s.

Our feeling was and still is that there is no scientific reason for not relaxing regulations. [Easing lead rules would] save billions of dollars in the balance of payments and also of million of barrels of crude oil a year.

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Dr. Jerome F. Cole, director of environmental health for the Lead Industries Association. The New York Times.

In contrast to popularized reports, there is no persuasive evidence that low-level lead exposure is responsible for any intelligence defects.

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Dr. Jerome F. Cole, director of environmental health for the Lead Industries Association. The New York Times.

Unfortunately, the atmosphere we’re now in prohibits objective scientists from coming forward. And why should they, when they would be crucified by the press, the E.P.A. and the environmentalists? . . . Our stance has been that lead from gasoline does not and has not caused health problems, and I have not seen any data that convinces me differently.

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Donald R. Lynam, director of air conservation at the Ethyl Corporation. The New York Times.

Evidence

Backgrounders & Briefs

The Secret History of Lead

This immense article is an intricately detailed history of leaded gasoline, from the industry's early cover-ups to their attempts to defeat EPA regulations.

The Removal of Lead From Gasoline: Historical and Personal Reflections

First-person historical analysis of the leaded gasoline fight.