The last place on Earth selling leaded gasoline for cars finally makes the switch

I saw a video of where they still mine it in Russia. They people there don’t even think it causes cancer. :confused:

I thought the speculation in Freakonmics was the correlation between legalized abortion and reduced violent crime rates.

Reduction in environmental lead, including from gasoline, certainly has reduced from EPA laws in the 70s, including paint, kids toys, and piping and the like. So surely there have been some positive health effects? I have also seen people speculate that the mass incarceration program is what reduced violent crime. Or the increase in the number of cops.

The truth is probably an amalgamation of factors, but I do think reduction of environmental lead had a hand in the decline of violent crime since its height in the 90s.


Oh, you know, I think you’re right- that is what I was thinking of. That part of what I said was overstepping. I just really hate that stupid book and can’t resist an opportunity to dunk on it. :grimacing:

The health benefits are not in question. Eliminating environmental lead was a huge win for all of us health-wise, no question. But I think the proposed link to crime reduction is really thin. As you say, it’s no doubt a lot of factors, but people have been throwing all sorts of random correlations at the wall for that effect, hoping something will stick. It’s practically religion at this point. Everyone uses “the drop in violent crime in the 90s” to prove their favorite ideology.


As far as I’m aware, you can still buy leaded petrol in the UK for use in classic cars, though I’m not sure how much leaded petrol is still sold as opposed to petrol using other anti-knock additives like MMT:

“the Federation lobbied successfully to secure an EU concession for the sale of leaded petrol in the UK, a concession which survives to this day, although current sales outlets are few in number, and the uptake of the product is quite small.”

from - the section titled “Lead:”.

See also The Motor Fuel (Composition and Content) Regulations 1999 part III “Regulations Relating to Leaded Petrol Permits”.

I wonder if they’ll finally drop the term “unleaded” at the pumps since gasoline without lead additives is not just the default option, it’s now the only option.

It would be like if every bottle of cola sold had “cocaine-free formula” on the label.


Well they ARE trying to eliminate 100LL AvGas. Part of the difficulty is that general aviation planes are usually in use for more years than automobiles. So a higher percentage of them are older and have engines designed for leaded fuel.


Yeah, but they’ve had what, 40 years or more to convert their engines? In the 1990s, I helped a friend convert an old Audi to unleaded, machining out the old valve seats and putting in hardened valve seats, it took a good solid weekend but by Sunday afternoon we were breaking the speed limit on the Tacomic Parkway running on unleaded. I think he had to adjust the ignition timing, but it wasn’t very complex or expensive. And, heck, if they have a classic that would be a tragedy to fiddle with the engine in that way, they sell bottles of tetra-ethyl-lead to pour in your gas tank.

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Apparently the valve issue was vastly overstated?

it doesn’t cost anything to convert a car to burn unleaded gasoline. You just put the unleaded in the tank, and you drive.

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It makes really good shielding. What can you think of that’s cheaper and lighter that’d block as much radiation per gram of shielding? Gold, that’s about it though.

If anything, I’d expect mass incarceration to only ever increase violent crime.

Everyone who goes in has so much potential. To build families, to create, to be a part of society, to do all kinds of amazing things.

Then they go through the system, and when they come out, it’s more or less impossible to get a job, impossible to get a loan to start a business, impossible to get on benefits in a lot of cases.

If anything the prison industrial complex is designed to do nothing but generate violent crime. It gives people no other choice.


It always sounded like the suburb next to Agrestic.


Car Talk! I miss those guys. I think it only really matters for engines with high compression ratios, but I doubt that prop airplane engines or old, worn car engines are squeezing the fuel-air mix that hard.

Disclaimer: not a pilot or an aviation mechanic, so please don’t take my advice on how to fuel your bird

I recall during my visit to the UK in 1999, even then there was LRP (Lead Replacement Petrol) for the older cars. I’d guess that actual leaded fuel is exospherically priced, but most people don’t use classic cars as daily drivers.

Here in the US, there are additives like Marvel Mystery Oil that can be used as lead substitutes for cars lacking modern valvetrains that stand up to unleaded. I’ve sometimes seen “off-road only” racing fuel with a 103 octane rating as well, with a dedicated pump, but I don’t recall now if it was leaded or not. It was about twice the cost of normal unleaded premium.

Because sometimes it’s not enough to leave muddy tire tracks so why not leave a little lead behind as well.

Around here, it would mostly end up on ovals and drag strips, but the point still stands.

There’s been a hopping racing scene in the south Chicago suburbs since at least the 1950s. Naturally, it got pushed further away from the city as the real estate developers gave track owners offers they couldn’t resist. Santa Fe Speedway, Raceway Park, and Smokin’ US 30 Dragstrip are long-gone now, with tracks just to the south of Joliet taking their place - a superspeedway, a clay oval, a drag strip, and a country club built around a road-racing course instead of a golf course.

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Practically no new technology ever gets introduced to small aircraft, because of the difficulty of getting it certified. “Modern” aircraft engines have only just started to use that new-fangled fuel injection, let alone switching to unleaded.


Hmm, I guess I should test my garden for lead too, even though I live in the burbs in an area that was still corn fields after the lead ban.


I think so. My 1974 Jeep was “Leaded Only” (said so right on the gas filler) but we ran it on unleaded for 25 years and never had a problem. No conversion had been done on it. That’s one anecdote, so take it for what it’s worth, I guess.


The Car Talk guys agreed with your anecdotal assessment, so… I do see plenty of cars driving around that were built prior to the shift here in the US.

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