Leaded petrol eradicated - U.N.

Leaded petrol has been eliminated, the United Nations has said, with the final stocks used up last month.

That announcement on Sunday (August 30) follows a 19-year campaign by the U.N.'s Environment Programme to eradicate use of the poisonous substance.

Speaking from Nairobi, where the UNEP's headquarters are located, executive director Inger Anderson:

"Leaded fuel illustrates in a nutshell the kind of mistakes that humanity has been making at every level of our societies. The kind of mistakes that have brought us to the triple planetary crisis: the crisis of climate change, the crisis of biodiversity loss and the crisis of pollution."

Lead could be found in all petrols globally until the 1970s, when wealthier countries began phasing it out.

In 2002, when the UNEP's campaign began, it was still used in more than 80 countries - and overwhelmingly on the African continent.

Having ended its use in sub-Saharan Africa by 2006, the focus shifted to the rest of the world.

By 2011 just six countries remained.

The last one still pumping leaded petrol in to vehicles was Algeria.

It exhausted its remaining stocks in July, the UNEP said.

U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres called it a "milestone for multilateralism" and the culmination of a "united global effort".

"We must now turn the same commitment to ending the triple crisis of climate disruption, biodiversity loss and pollution."

The UNEP says leaded petrol contaminated air, soil and drinking water, and could cause heart disease, strokes and cancer.

Some research suggests it harmed brain development, especially in children.

A UNEP-commissioned study estimated that 1.2 million premature deaths per year would be avoided now that leaded petrol has run out of gas.

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