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Leaded Petrol Worldwide Ban Should Prevent Over One Million Premature Deaths Per Year, Experts Say

by : Hannah Smith on : 31 Aug 2021 18:46
Leaded Petrol Worldwide Ban Should Prevent Over One Million Premature Deaths Per Year, Experts SayPA Images

A global end to leaded petrol sales will likely prevent more than one million air pollution-related deaths per year, experts have claimed.

The UN officially called time on ‘the age of leaded petrol’ this week after Algeria became the final country to stop sales of the fuel in its petrol stations, almost 40 years after it was first prohibited in the west.

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Lead petrol has been described as a ‘catastrophe for the environment and public health,’ with the fuel known to contaminate air, drinking water and food crops. Pollution from leaded petrol has been linked to increased rates of heart disease, strokes and some types of cancer, and has also been found to cause developmental damage in children.

Petrol pumps (PA Images)PA Images

According to the UN environment programme, the end of leaded petrol sales after several decades of campaigning marks a ‘huge milestone for global health and our environment’ which could see as many as 1.2 million premature deaths a year prevented worldwide.

Inger Andersen, executive director of the UNEP, said in a statement:

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Overcoming a century of deaths and illnesses that affected hundreds of millions and degraded the environment worldwide, we are invigorated to change humanity’s trajectory for the better through an accelerated transition to clean vehicles and electric mobility.

Exhaust fumes (PA Images)PA Images

The Guardian reports that emissions from leaded petrol will likely linger in the atmosphere for decades to come, with studies finding lead levels in London remain ‘far above natural background levels’ more than two decades after the substance was banned in the city.

The UN said that following the end of leaded fuel, its efforts were focused on phasing out the use of all fossil fuels in vehicles as environmental experts urge an accelerated transition to clean energy sources.

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Hannah Smith

Hannah Smith is a London-based journalist at UNILAD. After studying History at UCL she worked for print publications on both sides of the pond, including spells at Harper's Magazine and The Times, before graduating with an MA in Newspaper Journalism from City, University of London.

Topics: News, Emissions, Environment, Now

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The Guardian
  1. The Guardian

    Leaded petrol era ‘officially over’ as Algeria ends pump sales