Leaded petrol, a staple of motoring for nearly a century but blamed for more than 1-million premature deaths annually, has finally had its day. After a prolonged campaign to end its use, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) announced on Monday that Algeria, the last country to sell leaded petrol, had stopped doing so and the fuel was no longer made. UNEP executive director Inger Andersen described is as “a huge milestone for global health and our environment”. SA, like most of Sub-Saharan Africa, stopped using leaded petrol in 2006. Instead, the fuel industry offered a lead-replacement alternative for old vehicles designed to run on leaded petrol. This is no longer sold, though it is still possible to buy bottled additives for the petrol tank. The United Nations Environment Programme says leaded petrol has contaminated the atmosphere, drinking water and crops for nearly a century. The UN says its abolition will save 1.2 million premature deaths every year, largely by reducing heart disease and cancer. It also damages the developing brains of children. By the 1980s, most rich countries had banned the use of leaded petrol but it was only last month that Algeria – the last country to use the fuel – ran out of supplies.
SOURCE: BUSINESS DAY LIVE