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
In summary, epidemiologic evidence supports the position that airborne lead in the concentrations found in the general ambient atmosphere is, at most, a minor contributor to lead in blood. The increment of quantity of the airborne lead contribution even if it can be deduced, is biologically meaningless.
[A level of 10 micrograms per 100 milliliters of blood is] absolutely safe…There is no national health crisis with regard to lead.
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.
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.
Backgrounders & Briefs
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.
First-person historical analysis of the leaded gasoline fight.