Major Victory: Dangerous Leaded Gasoline Now Banned Worldwide

taberandrew via Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Since we don't see enough good news filter through these pages, I'm happy to bring you word of this 100% positive development: After a decades-long push by environmental groups around the world, a global phaseout of leaded gasoline is now all but complete. 175 countries around the world have successfully rid their gas of lead, which, according to the NRDC, will save an estimated 1.2 million lives a year.

There are still a few holdouts -- brutal totalitarian regimes like the ones running North Korea and so-called Myanmar aren't evidently concerned about the lead content in gasoline -- but by and large the world's governments have made leaded gas a thing of the past.

The NRDC reports:

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), working with NRDC in the Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles, today announced toxic lead has been removed from gasoline in more than 175 countries worldwide – representing near-global eradication. A new, independent scientific analysis shows the result of this achievement is a 90 percent drop in blood lead levels worldwide, as well as 1.2 million lives saved each year and $2.4 trillion generated in health, social and economic benefits annually.

This achievement is a terrific example of the power of global cooperation. Now, vehicle fuel in nearly every country in the world – with the exception of a handful of nations like Myanmar and North Korea – is lead-free.

The NRDC is actually largely to thank for getting the ball rolling on this issue; the group sued the EPA in 1972 to get lead out of gas in the U.S. after studies revealed how harmful airborne lead could be. As the group explains, "Lead had been used in gasoline since the 1920s – but it wasn’t until decades later that the dangers of airborne lead, particularly to children, started to become clear. We now know that lead can cause brain, kidney, and cardiovascular damage in adults and kids."

Be sure to read the NRDC's informative account of how the worldwide ban came about -- it's an inspiring story that should remind us that such decisive, border-crossing environmental protections are possible, even when they're inconvenient for the fossil fuels industry.

Tags: Air Pollution | Air Quality | Oil