Air pollution down after EU leaded petrol ban

French survey finds significant falls in lead concentrations just two months after phase-out

Levels of lead in air in French urban areas fell by an average of 42% in the first two months of this year, immediately after the use of leaded petrol was banned, the country's environment ministry reported today. The news marks the first indication of immediate environmental benefits from prohibition, which was agreed by EU member states in 1998.

The EU-wide ban on the addition of lead to petrol was agreed in the 1998 fuel quality directive, negotiated as part of the Auto/Oil legislative package (ENDS Daily 30 June 1998). It entered into force on 1 January this year in all EU countries except Italy, Spain and France's overseas territories, which were granted derogations of two years in the first two cases and five in the latter (ENDS Daily 20 December 1999).

The French review is based on monitoring in 12 urban areas. Scientists measured air lead levels in January and February 2000 and compared them with the same period in 1999. Measured reductions ranged from 23% in Toulouse to 70% in Lyon, averaging just under 42% across all participating stations.

Follow Up:
French environment ministry, tel: +33 1 42 19 10 56, and press release.

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