Leaded Fuel- A Threat to Human Health

By | July 13, 2016

 Adulteration of transport fuel may be defined as the illegal or unauthorized addition of cheaper substances/ by products/ waste products into the petroleum products for some monetary benefits. These unwanted chemicals are known as adulterants when added intent ally degrade and change the quality of the transportation fuel and have become the biggest problem in the country. Lead (Pb), a heavy metal (toxic) creates pollution and also very harmful for the environment as well as human beings. Leaded petrol means petrol is adulterated with lead (a carcinogen). Tetra ethyl lead was added in petrol/ gasoline in order to boost the octane number means lead helps in preventing the fuel from early combustion. It seriously affects the central nervous system, kidneys and brain of the human body when absorbed. Kids are more prone to the carcinogenic effects of lead than adults. The susceptibility of petrol to combust produces vibrations and noise in the engine of the vehicle known as knocking or pinging. To protect the engine from knocking, earlier petrol companies added lead to the petrol however, it strongly damaged the engine and the atmosphere too. Later, the government has banned the leaded petrol due its carcinogenic effects. Removal of lead from the petrol is known as unleaded petrol. Now a day’s unleaded petrol is available for public use. New additives have been arriving in the market in order to protect the environment and knocking in the engine from the harmful effects of leaded petrol.

A threat to human health

Harmful Effects of Leaded Petrol-

  • Children are vulnerable to absorb 4–5 times more than adults because they ingested higher lead (per unit body weight) through the skin and gastrointestinal tract.
  • It also affects pregnant females by causing miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and low birth weight and minor malformations.
  • Its long term absorption can lead to anemia, respiratory problems, cardiovascular diseases, kidney damage, and neurological disturbances such as headache, irritability, lethargy, convulsions, muscle weakness, paralysis, male infertility and even cancer.

Leaded petrol causes malfunctioning of the engine, failure of components and safety problems. It also increases the emission of toxic and harmful substances like hydrocarbons (HC), carbon monoxide (CO), oxides of nitrogen (NOx), particulate matter (PM) in air, whereas, unleaded petrol will allow for the introduction of catalytic converters that will reduce the emissions of toxic substances by 90% and extend the life of engine from 1.5 to 2 times. Catalytic converters by using a chemical reaction changes the harmful pollutants like carbon dioxide and other harmful hydrocarbons to CO2, nitrogen and water. Tetra ethyl lead has a tendency to clog up these converters and making them non functional. Thus, unleaded fuel became the best option for any car with a catalytic converter.

Spectro Analytical Lab provides all the facilities and instruments for testing the quality of  petroleum products. It also provides training and assistance in this regard.