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Secret History of Using Lead in Gasoline

A still-relevant article from 2000 in The Nation describes how just under a century ago, General Motors, Du Pont and Standard Oil (now known Exxon) banded together to put lead, a known poison, into gasoline -- for the sake of profit.

According to The Nation article:

“Recently uncovered documents ... tell the true story of leaded gasoline, a sad and sordid commercial venture that would tiptoe its way quietly into the black hole of history if the captains of industry were to have their way ... The leaded gas adventurers have profitably polluted the world on a grand scale and, in the process, have provided a model for the asbestos, tobacco, pesticide and nuclear power industries, and other twentieth-century corporate bad actors, for evading clear evidence that their products are harmful by hiding behind the mantle of scientific uncertainty.”

The story began on December 9, 1921, when an engineer named Thomas Midgley Jr., reported his discovery that tetraethyl lead worked to reduce "knock" or "pinging" in internal-combustion engines.  It still has not entirely ended -- although lead was finally outlawed as an automotive gasoline additive in the U.S. in 1986, leaded gas is still being sold in the Third World, Eastern Europe and elsewhere.

Click the link below to read the full history.

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