Made in Britain: The toxic lead used in fuel sold to world's poorest
A British company convicted of bribing foreign officials to maintain sales of a poisonous lead fuel additive is continuing to sell the chemical abroad to unstable countries, despite mounting evidence that it is responsible for long- term damage to human health and may be linked to violent crime.
Environmental groups today called on the Government to ban Innospec Ltd, which claims to be the world's only producer of tetraethyl lead (TEL), from further exports of the substance. TEL is banned from use on Britain's roads but remains legal in six impoverished nations. The company, which is American owned but maintains much of its manufacturing in the UK, had intended to stop production and sales of TEL at the end of 2012 but has now set a new deadline of the end of this year to halt all dealings in the chemical, from which it has generated large profits.
It recently told shareholders it would seek to "maximise the cash flow" from its declining sales of TEL. The revelations come amid amid renewed focus on the long-term effects of lead pollution following scientific research suggesting an extraordinary correlation between environment between deposits of the heavy metal in the environment, due to leaded fuel and paint, and levels of violent crime in cities.
The US magazine Mother Jones this week highlighted studies which show an apparent link between the rise in leaded petrol use until the 1970s and a spike in violence, with a 20-year gap reflecting the time for children damaged by the metal – including negative effects on the nervous system and IQ – to reach adulthood.