Letter: Leaded fuel still poisons children

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The Independent Online
Sir After all we now know about the toxic hazards from lead, I felt almost disbelief on reading Anthony Bevins' report (5 November) that the transport minister John Bowis is opposing an EU proposal to ban lead- adulterated petrol from the end of 1999.

This comes despite a UK government statement in 1995 that children's blood lead levels "remain at or not far below the level at which effects on the central nervous system have been demonstrated".

Numerous scientific and medical studies have shown that present levels of this environmental toxin are associated with learning disabilities and impairment of behavioural control. Lead is not the only factor, but common sense tells us that if you poison children's brains you must expect their behaviour and intelligence to suffer.

Four-star petrol is not the only source of lead - tap water is also a major problem in some areas. But although lead levels in petrol and children have fallen, the great scandal is that no car on the roads requires any lead whatsoever in its fuel if this is properly formulated. This statement goes against current belief carefully fostered by the oil and lead industries, but I stake my professional reputation on its accuracy.


Emeritus Professor

Department of Chemistry

University of Reading