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Media Release – 17th November 2011


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SAICM [or the US EPA] could take the credit for the historic end to the sale of leaded petrol globally by end 2011

Award-winning environmentalist and mother of lead poisoned children doesn’t want millions of other mothers to, in ignorance, have to experience their children being lead poisoned because a US company wants to squeeze profit out of making the lead additive for petrol for another year. If her Australian health promotion charity, The LEAD Group Inc. can stop the lead additive exports this year, 2011, we stop 194 million people in six countries being needlessly lead poisoned for up to a whole year longer. Lead poisoning with its consequent IQ loss, increased crime and risk of early death is the most preventable and most common childhood environmental health issue. Leaded petrol could be the first chemical to be eliminated globally. This is an opportunity for SAICM to MAKE history in 2011!


1922 – tetra-ethyl lead (TEL) was first added to petrol in the USA, as an anti-knock agent, BY Thomas Midgley, who was posthumously declared to be “responsible for more damage to Earth's atmosphere than any other single organism that has ever lived."

1972 – in recognition of mass lead poisoning via leaded petrol, the US EPA regulated the introduction of unleaded gasoline (petrol), thus beginning the world’s first national phaseout of leaded petrol

1986 – Japan (probably due to its Minamata mercury tragedy and high value placed on IQ and longevity) became the first nation to phase-out leaded petrol

1990 - World Health Statistics Quarterly declared lead in petrol to be “The Mistake of the 20th Century.” Ref:

1991 - the OECD determined that phasing out leaded gasoline was the most important lead poisoning prevention action any national government could take

1992 – The LEAD Group lobbied Australian Environment Minister Ros Kelly to speed up Australia’s phase-out (which was begun in 1985 and finally achieved in 2002)

1994 – US researchers declared “lead poisoning remains the single most significant preventable disease associated with an environmental and occupational toxin”; and “Although lead in gasoline represents only 2.2 percent of total global lead use, leaded gasoline is by far the single most significant source of lead exposure in urban areas”; and the UN Commission on Sustainable Development called on all governments to eliminate lead from gasoline. Ref:

1995 December – the US phased out leaded gasoline for road-use vehicles and the US EPA released a press release including: “The elimination of lead from gas is one of the great environmental achievements of all time," [EPA Administrator Carol M] Browner said. "Thousands of tons of lead have been removed from the air, and blood levels of lead in our children are down 70 percent. This means that millions of children will be spared the painful consequences of lead poisoning, such as permanent nerve damage, anemia or mental retardation." The actions taken today, although procedural, mark the end of a quarter-of-a-century of work to keep Americans safe from exposure to lead from gas.” Ref:

1996 Feb 20 - OECD member nations signed a Lead declaration placing lead petrol phase-out as the number one action for each OECD country. Ref:

2002 – the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) took two decisions to protect children’s health from exposure to lead. Firstly, the WSSD Plan of Implementation (POI) called for: “Supporting the phasing out of lead in gasoline.” One result of WSSD 2002 was that the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) set up the Partnership for Cleaner Fuels and Vehicles (PCVF) with a core goal of global elimination of leaded petrol.

2003 – The LEAD Group became the first Australian Partner of the PCFV and took a “watch and learn” attitude to see how the United Nations goes about achieving its goals. A: slowly.

2005 – The LEAD Group was the first to publish a tally of countries that were still selling leaded petrol. It was 67 countries as at International Lead Poisoning Awareness Day, Oct 20. Ref: - see graph for progress towards phaseout.


2006 Jan – the only remaining manufacturer of TEL changed its name from Octel to Innospec to give the impression to potential shareholders that it was moving out of the TEL business and into non-lead fuel additives and other “innovative specialty” chemicals. Ref:

2006 Jun 6 - SAICM (Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management) releases Global Plan of Action: including: “Work areas addressing risk reduction (objective 1) Activit[y]: Eliminate lead in gasoline. Actors: National Governments, IOMC (UNEP, WHO, UNIDO, UNDP, World Bank), GEF, Industry. Targets/Timeframes: 2006-2010. Indicators of Progress: Lead in gasoline is eliminated. Ref: SAICM Global Plan of Action page 33 of 84, 6 June 2006 [no longer online as at 17 June 2011]

2006 Aug 23-25 – correspondence between The LEAD Group and Innospec: Incoming Email: Enquiry from Innospec Inc. website re: is Australian lead used to make lead petrol? Innospec: We do not purchase our lead directly from Australia, but use a third party supplier. Outgoing email: Who? Incoming email: I understand it's Britannia. Ref: pers comm. [copy available]

2006 Sept 9 – The LEAD Group web-publishes Lead Mining Stewardship - Grey Lead and the Role of The LEAD Group fact sheet, proposing: “preventing lead from mining companies from being sold to the one manufacturer who uses lead to make the leaded petrol additive, that is, Innospec in the UK. If Innospec could not buy lead, hundreds of millions of children in the … countries still selling leaded petrol would not have to wait until 2010 for the SAICM … goal of a global lead petrol ban to be achieved.” Ref:

2008 – Beijing PCFV meeting acknowledges it will fail to meet its original target of a 2008 global leaded gasoline phaseout. The LEAD Group calls for a ban on Australian lead exports for TEL for road-use and asks Xstrata to stop supplying lead to Innospec via Britannia. Ref: and

2010 March 18 - Securities & Exchange Commission [SEC] v. Innospec, Inc., Civil Action. SEC FILES SETTLED FOREIGN CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT CHARGES AGAINST INNOSPEC, INC. FOR ENGAGING IN BRIBERY IN IRAQ AND INDONESIA WITH TOTAL DISGORGEMENT AND CRIMINAL FINES OF $40.2 M. Ref: The US SEC Complaint against Innospec names relevant entity Swiss-based Alcor, “a wholly owned subsidiary of Innospec” and states Alcor’s “financial results were consolidated with those of Innospec throughout the relevant period [2000-2007]”. Ref:

2011 April –The estimated global annual impacts of lead in vehicle fuels were found [by Hatfield and Tsai in a United Nations-commissioned report currently being peer-reviewed and expected to be published in 2011] to be significant:
• Close to 1.1 million deaths;
• A loss of 322 million IQ points;
• Close to 60 million crime cases;
• Economic loss of USD 2.4 trillion per year (4% of global GDP)

2011 June 17 – The LEAD Group updated to show Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Myanmar (Burma), North Korea and Yemen are the six remaining countries where leaded gasoline is possibly still being sold.

2011 June 28 – The LEAD Group asked US President Barack Obama: “Please ask SEC to seek further reparation from Innospec by ordering the company to stop making TEL for road use, and to buy back all stocks of TEL and pay for its transport back to the UK.” [No reply received as at 17 Nov 2011.]

2011 June 28 – The LEAD Group asked Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey to ask Swiss mining giant Xstrata to stop supplying lead to Innospec and ask Alcor to make reparation by ordering them to stop supplying TEL for road use, and to buy back all stocks of TEL and pay for its transport back to the UK, and was advised by her, in a letter dated Aug 2: “Switzerland is committed to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises [ Ref: ]. Your letter will therefore be forwarded to the Swiss National Contact Point (NCP).”

2011 June 28 – The LEAD Group asked Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard to ban the export of lead that was destined to be made into leaded petrol. Nov 15 reply received from Senator Don Farrell, Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water, states, due to Australia’s obligations in the World Trade Organisation and its free trade agreements, imposing restrictions or conditions on the export of Australian lead “cannot be justified”.

2011 August 25 – The LEAD Group sends a formal complaint to the OECD NCPs of Switzerland, Australia, US and UK re: non-compliance of Innospec and Xstrata with the OECD Guidelines for MNE. The US NCP requests a detailed complaint (sent Oct 25).

2011 September – the PCFV Clearinghouse Secretariat refuses to engage with Innospec, due to their proven bribery of Indonesian and Iraq officials, or invite them to the next PCFV meeting to answer questions on which countries they still supply with TEL for automotive fuel

2011 Oct 26 & 27 – The LEAD Group presents its strategy to the Global Partnership Meeting of the PCFV in Nairobi and seeks to award Patrick Williams, CEO of Innospec as “Lead-Safe World Champion” for his expected announcement of cessation of sale of petrol lead additive. Ref: The PCFV Clearing House report on when leaded gasoline will cease being sold in the six remaining countries is full of question marks but includes acceptance that “Innospec expects TEL sales to end 2012”. Ref: This deadstop to PCFV progress / action on global phaseout before the end of 2011 creates an opening for others to act

2011 Nov 17 – SAICM [or the US EPA] takes action to inspire Innospec to buy back all stocks of tetra ethyl lead (TEL) used to make leaded petrol on the International Lead Poisoning Prevention Day of Action, Belgrade, Serbia.

Elizabeth O'Brien,
Manager, Global Lead Advice & Support Service (GLASS) run by The LEAD Group Inc. We lead the way | We educate | We advocate | We'll work until the world's lead-safe

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