One issue that remains of particular concern is the continuing presence of lead in gasoline. Although according to IPIECA over 88 per cent of gasoline sold worldwide is lead free, leaded gasoline is still being sold in 74 countries. Not only is lead polluting the environment but its presence also harms vehicle catalytic converters and precludes the use of vehicles equipped with such technology to reduce other emissions.
About 40 countries still using leaded gasoline are situated in Sub-Saharian Africa (SSA). During a conference that took place at the headquarters of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to assess progress towards a lead-free continent in Nairobi, May 9th 2004, great progress of the nations in Sub-Saharian Africa (SSA) has been reported.
Over half of all petrol sold in sub-Saharan Africa is now unleaded. The report also indicates that 12 countries with refineries have committed to lead phase-out. Nine countries including Cape Verde, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Ghana (refiner), Mauritania, Mauritius, Nigeria (refiner), Rwanda, and Sudan (refiner) have already switched entirely to unleaded fuel. Ten other countries with refineries have committed to a lead phaseout: South Africa, Zambia, Madagaskar, Kenya, Cameroon, Senegal, Congo-Brazza, Cote d'Ivoire, Angola, and Equatorial Guinea.
The good news are important, because Kenya supplies many of the countries in the region. Currently just four per cent of the motor fuels sold in Kenya are unleaded. To meet the goal of a complete phase out by the end of 2005, Kenya will have to upgrade its state-owned refineries.
Klaus Toepfer, UNEP’s Executive Director, said: " Removing lead from petrol in Africa is proving to be one of the great environmental and health success stories of the early 21st century. At the WSSD in Johannesburg two years ago, Governments, the private sector, civil society and intergovernmental organizations like UNEP committed themselves to action on a wide range of fronts. This project shows that a concerted effort from Governments, civil society, and the private sector assisted by international organizations can result in rapid and important improvements".
Radford University: More about lead in gasoline.
University of Bristol: More about petrol additives.
Global Lead Network: further information on lead pollution
Clean Air Initiative: Leaded Gasoline: An overview of environmental and health impacts
International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association: Strategies and Resources for Leaded Gasoline Phase Out
Radford University: Ethyl War - Forbidden Fuel and Public Poison
Simon Cotton, Uppingham School, Rutland: Lead TetraEthyl and MTBE - Petrol Additives
Countries that have phased out leaded gasoline
Bill Kovarik: Charles F. Kettering and the 1921 Discovery of Tetraethyl Lead In the Context of Technological Alternatives
The Nation, March 2, 2000: The Secret History of Lead: Special Report
Environmental Research Foundation: Dumbing the Children, Part 1
Research Foundation: Dumbing the Children, Part 2
Research Foundation: Dumbing the Children, Part 3
EVISA News, July 18, 2006: Lead pollution by gasoline - a persisting problem
last time modified: March 21, 2010