A century of leaded gasoline has taken millions of lives and to this day leaves the soil in many cities from New Orleans to London toxic.
The leaded gasoline story provides a practical example of how industry’s profit-driven decisions—when unsuccessfully challenged and regulated—can cause serious and long-term harm. It takes individual public health leaders and strong media coverage of health and environmental issues to counter these risks.
There's a nice graph there too:
Extra course credits for reading up on the Lead-Crime hypothesis: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lead%E2%80%93crime_hypothesis
A 2011 study by the California State University found that "Ridding the world of leaded petrol, with the United Nations leading the effort in developing countries, has resulted in $2.4 trillion in annual benefits, 1.2 million fewer premature deaths, higher overall intelligence and 58 million fewer crimes", according to the United Nations News Centre. The executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Achim Steiner argued that "Although this global effort has often flown below the radar of [the] media and global leaders, it is clear that the elimination of leaded petrol is an immense achievement on par with the global elimination of major deadly diseases."
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