From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Leaded Petrol
Mains level : Not Much
The use of leaded petrol has been eradicated from the globe, a/c to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
What is Leaded Petrol?
- Tetraethyl-lead (TEL) is a petro-fuel additive, first being mixed with petrol beginning in the 1920s as a patented octane rating booster that allowed engine compression to be raised substantially.
- This in turn caused increased vehicle performance and fuel economy.
- The practice of adding tetraethyl lead to petrol had spread widely to all countries soon after its anti-knock and octane-boosting properties were discovered.
- TEL is still used as an additive in some grades of aviation gasoline.
Issues with leaded petrol
- Lead is toxic, affects multiple body systems and is particularly harmful to young children.
- It affects the brain, liver, kidneys, and bones. Lead is measured in the blood to understand exposure.
- Lead in bone is released into the blood during pregnancy and becomes a source of exposure to the developing foetus.
- More recent research has indicated that lead can damage the infant brain even at blood levels as low as 5 microunits per decilitre (μ/dl).
India’s tryst with leaded petrol
- India was among those countries that took early action to phase out leaded petrol. The process of phase down that had started in 1994, got completed in 2000.
- Initially, low-leaded petrol was introduced in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai in 1994, followed by unleaded petrol in 1995.
- The entire country got low-leaded petrol in 1997 while leaded fuel was banned in the National Capital Territory of Delhi.
- The final introduction of unleaded petrol in the entire country was mandated in April 2000.
- This decision was also catalyzed by the Supreme Court order that had directed the introduction of unleaded petrol to enable the adoption of catalytic converters in petrol cars.
Significance of phasing out
- It is a milestone that will prevent more than 1.2 million premature deaths and save world economies over $2.4 trillion annually.
- It has taken 100 years to stop the use of leaded fuel finally.
Try answering this PYQ:
Q.Lead, ingested or inhaled, is a health hazard. After the addition of lead to petrol has been banned, what still are the sources of lead poisoning? (CSP 2012)
- Smelting units
- Pens pencils
- Hair oils and cosmetics
Select the correct answer using the codes given below:
(a) 1, 2 and 3 only
(b) 1 and 3 only
(c) 2 and 4 only
(d) 1, 2, 3 and 4
Post your answers here.