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