Leaded gasoline has been proven to be one of the most efficient methods for releasing lead into the environment. Consequently, the existence of leaded gasoline contributes to lead poisoning and overall poor health. Given these facts, many countries have phased lead out of gasoline, and the worldwide phase-out of leaded gasoline has been recommended (www.globalleadnet.org/pdf/BPWorldwideenvhealthpriority.02.pdf).
The phase-out of leaded gasoline has been proven to be practical and cost efficient in the countries that have proceeded with the phase-out process. Some of these countries have been less-developed nations, but a great portion of them have been nations that are developed and industrial
(www.globalleadnet.org/pdf/BPWorldwideenvhealthpriority.02.pdf). The cost efficiency of the phase-out process was the issue on which most of the class discussion focused.
A great deal of the cost benefit of the phase out of leaded gasoline is seen in reduced health care costs in the nations that phase out leaded gasoline (www.globalleadnet.org). These health costs may or may not be seen in less developed nations that phase-out leaded gasoline. The health costs are seen in developed nations primarily because individuals in industrialized countries seek health care attention when ill. This may not be the case in less developed nations, where health care is not as centralized or well developed, and individuals may not be as well educated about seeking health care attention. If this is the case, and few people report illnesses in these countries, then the phase-out of leaded gasoline would not prove to be as cost effective in these nations, and may not be a good thing for the nation.
Nations that are less developed also have less money, and less money to spend on issues such as phasing out leaded gasoline. Instead, poorer, undeveloped countries must worry about more pressing issues, such as national defense, food, infrastructure, etc. The debate in class focused for quite some time on the question: Is it acceptable to ask governments in developing, struggling nations to focus money into this type of program that may do less good for the people than some other program? Or, is the phase-out of leaded gasoline a pressing issue for poor and undeveloped nations?
On the same issue, is the phase-out of leaded gasoline a pressing issue when a great deal of money and time is being spent on developing technologies that would render gasoline in general obsolete? It can be argued, and was in class, that countries that are still developing would be better off saving money and effort until the world steps away from fossil fuels to the new technologies. By doing so, the nations would keep up with current trends. By devoting time to phasing-out lead, the less developed countries might continue the current trend of remaining one step behind current technologies.
These issues having been stated, it is obvious that leaded gasoline is a bad thing. The health costs are great, and in the nations that have successfully ridded lead from gasoline, the level of health has risen (www.gasandoil/goc/news/nta31061.htm). Therefore, any country looking to get rid of leaded gasoline should be encouraged to do so if the funds are available, because the health level of that nation will rise. Subsidies should also be applauded when given to this cause, as they make it possible to phase-out the lead in gasoline with less help from the government, and therefore less strain on a nation's economy.
There are a great many issues surrounding the topic of leaded gasoline and its phase-out. No one will argue that leaded gasoline is a desirable technology. However, one must consider other issues when deciding whether or not a country should rid lead from the gasoline.