Post By: Molly Hover, Upstream Research™ Marketing Manager
You’re running low on gas and, as you watch the needle get closer to the big E on your dashboard, you can’t ignore it any longer. So, you pull into the nearest gas station, uncap your gas tank and reach for the pump. Then there’s the choice of what type of fuel you’d like: regular unleaded, plus unleaded, premium unleaded, diesel. You make your choice without a second thought to the type of gas you’re using. What does unleaded really mean anyway?
Well, it means it doesn’t contain lead. Obviously.
Before 1974, “unleaded” gasoline was not an option for patrons using the pump. “Tetraethyl lead was added to fuel to reduce the volatility of the gas and increase the octane rating” (Quora.com...). Lead was an additive that was meant enhance gasoline, but the harmful effects of breathing in lead for children and the negative environmental impacts led to the switch in the mid ‘70s.
In 2017, we take the bi-weekly look at “unleaded” for granted. In a time where lead is on the mind of the nation (think Flint, MI), we should be focused on our consumptions that do not contain lead.
Among its worst effects, lead “attacks the brain and central nervous system to cause coma, convulsions and even death." Children are the most at-risk group because they absorb as much as five times the amount of lead that adults do. The effects in behavior and neurological functions are commonly believed to be irreversible, which makes avoidance of exposure vital.
Most alarming of all, “there is no known safe blood lead concentration” making any exposure, a hazardous one especially for young children.
See our other blog posts for a guide on toxic-free products, risks of toxics to expecting mothers, a look at the water crisis, and at the harmful effects of lead paint. While many companies and cities have made advances in “unleaded” products and city services, there is still much work to be done. The next time you need to gas up, think about the effort that was made to turn a necessary chore into a safer one.
See Upstream environmental risk map here, which highlights lead risk especially in children under the age of five.
Lead prevention tips: https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/tips.htm
Certified lead contractors: http://www.leadsafelist.com/renovators/
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