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

There is no evidence that [leaded gasoline] has introduced a danger in the field of public health…lead is an inevitable element in the surface of the earth, in its vegetation, in its animal life, and that there is no way in which man has ever been able to escape the absorption of lead while living in this planet.

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Robert Kehoe, a scientist “cultivated by industry as the dominant authority on lead”, Clean air act hearings. Environmental Research.

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.

The people in this room have the same amount of lead in their blood as do the natives in New Guinea. If you take lead out of the air, you’ll still have it in your body.

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George Rausch, a professor from Tulane University, The Los Angeles Times.

It would cost us more to produce high octane, unleaded fuel; it would cost the consumer more to buy it; and it would cost the country more in terms of its overall consumption of crude oil.

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Leo McReynolds, research director for Phillips. The Los Angeles 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.