LEAD Action News
LEAD Action News Volume 16 Number 3, june 2016, ISSN 1324-6011
Incorporating Lead Aware Times ( ISSN 1440-4966) and Lead Advisory Service News (ISSN 1440-0561)
The Journal of The LEAD (Lead Education and Abatement Design) Group Inc.
Editor-in-Chief: Elizabeth O’Brien, Editorial Team: Yiru Rocky Huang, Michelle Calvert and David Ratcliffe

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Q: How many countries still sell leaded petrol / leaded gasoline? A: Three - Algeria, Iraq and Yemen

By Elizabeth O'Brien, Lead Advisor, The LEAD Group Inc

A US doctor working at a US Clinic for Refugees emailed The LEAD Group to ask:

Q: Do Afghanistan, Burma, N Korea, Algeria, Iraq and Yemen still use leaded gasoline? We resettle families from all of these areas and I am interested in learning more about potential exposures.

Here’s my answer:

A: Leaded gasoline is still sold in Algeria, Iraq and Yemen because a US company needs the profits

Dear doctor,

yes, sadly, tragically, the latest information from the United Nations Environment Programme's (UNEP's) Partnership for Cleaner Fuels and Vehicles (PCFV) - of which I am a Partner - is that leaded gasoline is still sold in 3 of these countries, along with unleaded gasoline:- Algeria, Iraq and Yemen. See the map at:

http://www.unep.org/Transport/new/PCFV/pdf/Maps_Matrices/world/lead/MapWorldLead_January2016.pdf  - which is accessible via http://www.unep.org/transport/new/pcfv/

Worse still, up until 27 January 2016, that page (http://www.unep.org/transport/new/pcfv/) linked to a World Map showing 6 countries still selling leaded petrol as at April 2014 - which not only shows that leaded and unleaded gasoline were available in Algeria, Iraq and Yemen, but also shows that ONLY leaded gasoline was available in Afghanistan, Myanmar and North Korea (presumably up to the end of January 2016).

The PCFV website noted at the time, in The Lead Campaign - linking to the 2014 World Map (undated but probably written in April 2014):

"Today only 6 countries still use leaded petrol, versus the 82 countries that were leaded when the PCFV was formed in 2002. The PCFV supports programs in these 6 remaining countries, ensuring that a global elimination is within reach."

The original UNEP PCFV target date for the total elimination of leaded gasoline globally was 2008, according to the PCFV booklet Target 2008- Global Elimination of Leaded Petrol - published early 2008.

So, being half-way through the final 6 leaded gasoline countries nearly 8 years on, is not something the US-incorporated UK-manufacturing lead additive manufacturer can be proud of, and certainly, I am ashamed to be a

Partner of a UN Partnership (which includes the US EPA) which appears to

wield such little influence over a US company (Innospec).

These 6 countries were the last-remaining leaded gasoline selling countries also as at January 2012 and January 2011, so, in other words, every other country in the world went unleaded more than FIVE years before these final customers of "responsible tetraethyl lead supply". In the three years since January 2008 in fact, 10 other countries finally went unleaded.

The best effort I ever made to get Innospec to stop making the lead gasoline additive (tetra-ethyl lead or TEL for short) was to complain about the company to the OECD. In the resulting statement of Innospec's refusal to engage in negotiations on the matter with my charity (The LEAD Group), Innospec stated that they had "never supplied TEL to Afghanistan, North Korea or Burma", which I took to mean that they admitted they were supplying TEL to Algeria, Iraq and Yemen (as we had claimed in our complaint, based on the UNEP PCFV information and the fact that Innospec stated on their website that they were the only manufacturer of TEL in the world). Today, still states:

"Octane Additives

Responsible tetraethyl lead supply and stewardship

Our Octane Additives business is the world’s only manufacturer of tetraethyl lead (TEL) products."

[URL: http://www.innospecinc.com/our-markets/octane-additives/octane-additives ]

Innospec's Annual Report (for 2015 calendar year) states:

"Decline in our TEL business

The remaining sales of the Octane Additives business are now concentrated to one remaining customer. When this customer chooses to cease using TEL as an octane enhancer then the Company’s future operating income and cash flows from operating activities would be materially impacted."

[URL: http://www.envisionreports.com/IOSP/2016/14222JA16E/default.htm#p=1&c=0&v=1?voting=false ]

Have the words "responsible" and "stewardship" ever been so misused as in the phrase: "Responsible tetraethyl lead supply and stewardship"?

Thus, I am encouraged by the January 2016 PCFV "WORLD MAP: Leaded Petrol Phase-out: Global Status January 2016" [showing 3 countries where leaded gasoline is still used for road vehicles; Dual (leaded and unleaded) Countries: Iraq, Algeria, Yemen] to approach Innospec again, and I would encourage you to also write to them (and to your federal environment minister and congressional representative) with your concerns about the likely lead exposure of the refugees (and long-term costs to the US health and education and criminal justice systems) coming from those countries to the USA.

To write to Innospec you can "Send Message" to:

Innospec Fuel Specialties LLC
8310 South Valley Highway
Suite 350
Colorado 80112
Tel: +1 303 792 5554

via the Colorado tab on the map at http://www.innospecinc.com/get-in-touch

Such refugees (of all ages) require blood lead monitoring and blood pressure monitoring from the moment they arrive in the USA, and then periodically until their blood lead levels fall at least below 5 micrograms per decilitre, in order to give them some hope of having a healthy brain and non-elevated blood pressure for the rest of their lives. This monitoring should identify those refugees who had lead exposure from, for instance, roadside sales of leaded gasoline, siphoning of leaded gasoline from containers into vehicle fuel tanks, (gasoline service stations are not common in these countries) breathing the air around dense traffic, as well as all the other usual lead sources such as shooting leaded ammunition and living near or working in lead mines, smelters, lead acid battery recycling operations (which often are small-scale and involve collection of batteries by children and breaking of batteries and melting of the lead in homes or residential yards or on the footpath) or metal scrap recycling/car recycling/e-waste recycling (also often done by children).

All the best in your important work. I'm very happy to web-publish cases or blood lead or blood pressure results from your Refugee clinic if you'd like to supply them.

Yours Sincerely

Elizabeth O'Brien, Lead Advisor

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