LEAD Action News

LEAD Action News vol 1 no 1 Feb 1993   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.

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Tips & Facts

Driving like a hoon increases lead emissions

Where does all the lead from petrol go within the car, and when is it emitted?

In low-speed city driving, the lead emitted from the exhaust may be as low as 20% of the lead content of the petrol being consumed. This is because some lead is retained in depositions or 'hang-up' in the vehicle's engine and exhaust pipe.

This deposited lead may, however, be emitted later during acceleration. During extreme acceleration (as in hooning), emitted lead may rise as high as 2000% of lead consumed.

Also at high speeds a higher proportion of lead is emitted as the finer particles, i.e. less than 0.1 micron in size. These particles are easily dispersed over large distances; this size is also the most dangerous to human health as below 0.1 micron can pass into the lower parts of the lungs.

Octel  Ltd,  the largest manufacturers of lead for petrol, have estimated that over 50,000km of driving, about 73% of total lead input will be emitted. Of course the rest of the lead does not just disappear.

Sump oil is heavily contaminated with lead and so are old engines and exhaust systems, which are often dismantled by hand and sometimes melted down as scrap iron thus further adding to airborne lead emissions.

(From Lead in Petrol: An Environmental Case Study by Peter Newman and Jeffrey Kenworthy, Murdoch University, March 1985.)

Comparing your blood lead test results

Blood lead results usually come expressed as m/L (micromoles per litre). But media reports and the medical literature usually use g/dL (micrograms per decilitre.) To convert, simply multiply the figure in your test results by 20.7.

Where does all the sump oil go?

Because it is insoluble and persistent, waste oil has the most negative impact of all automotive products. It contains toxic chemicals and heavy metals, and is slow to degrade and evaporate.

Used oil is the largest single source of oil pollution in the US (over 40 %). Most is dumped by 'do-it-yourselfers'. In 1960, 90 % of oil changes were done by service stations; this figure is now only 40%!

Most used oil is dumped in stormwater drains, poured on the ground, or sent off to landfill by do-it-yourselfers. It contains toxic chemicals, carcinogenic hydrocarbons and heavy metals (lead, cadmium, zinc, arsenic, chromium).

600mls of oil produces a one acre oil slick on water!

  • Plankton die on contact with oils and oyster beds are contaminated.

  • 300 parts/million ruins the taste of fish;

  • 1L fouls 640,000L of water.

  • Making 3L of new oil requires 200L of crude oil - or just 4.5L of used oil. This is a very obvious reason to recycle used oil! (Source: Recycling brochure of Seattle).

Changing the oil
in your car?

When changing your own oil, never pour it down the drain. Enquire at your local councillor service centre about oil recycling facilities.

Ask for recycled oil to be used in your car. It is of a very high quality.

Creating a demand for the recycled product will encourage more recycling.

- Mina Sirianni (from The Home Environmentalist, Winter 1992).

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Last Updated 10 May 2014
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