Leaded gasoline is no longer used in any country in the world, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) announced on Monday, hailing a "major step" that will save more than 1.2 million lives and save over 2.4 trillion dollars.

Almost a century after the first warnings about the toxic effects of leaded gasoline, Algeria, the last country to use the fuel, ran out of stocks last month, UNEP said.

“The successful implementation of the ban on leaded gasoline is a major milestone for global health and for our environment,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP, whose headquarters are in the United States. Kenyan capital Nairobi.

A hundred consumer countries twenty years ago

The disappearance of this fuel marks "the end of a toxic era", underlined in a press release Thandile Chinyavanhu, in charge of the Greenpeace campaigns on climate and energy for Africa.

“This clearly shows that if we can phase out one of the most dangerous polluting fuels of the 20th century, we can eliminate absolutely all fossil fuels,” she added.

Until 20 years ago, more than a hundred countries used leaded gasoline, despite scientific studies pointing to it as the cause of premature deaths, adverse health effects and air and soil pollution. .

The first alert was given in 1924, when dozens of workers were hospitalized and five declared dead after suffering from seizures in a refinery in New Jersey (United States).

Cheap gasoline

However, until the 1970s, almost all gasoline sold in the world contained lead.

When UNEP launched its campaign in 2002, several major powers, such as the United States, China and India, had already stopped using this fuel.

But it remained widely used in low-income countries.

In 2016, after North Korea, Burma and Afghanistan stopped selling leaded gasoline, only a handful of countries still operated service stations supplying this fuel.

Algeria finally followed Iraq and Yemen among the last countries to break free.

UNEP estimates in a statement that the eradication of leaded gasoline "will prevent more than 1.2 million premature deaths per year, increase IQ points in children, save 2.440 billion dollars (2.034 billion euros ) to the global economy and reduce the crime rate ”.

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