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I thought we got rid of leaded gasoline in 1990, but it turns out that it is still used in airplanes, in certain heavy vehicles, boats, and in competition vehicles (racing cars/trucks). In 2007, Environment Canada held a public consultation on whether competition vehicles should continue to be allowed to use leaded gasoline, after January 1, 2008:

“Health Canada remains concerned over the exposure of spectators and nearby residents to lead emitted at race tracks. Recent health studies have lead to increased concern about the effects of lead exposures, especially among children. Intellectual and neurobehavioral effects are being detected at lower body lead burdens than were previously thought to be detrimental.

Import volume data received by Environment Canada under the regulations have shown increased volumes of leaded gasoline being imported for use in competition vehicles… the amount of lead being emitted at racetracks has increased in proportion to the increased fuel being burned….given that the Canadian race car industry continues to grow, exposure to lead from competition vehicle emissions is deemed a significant contributor to overall lead exposure for people who live near to and/or attend racing car event, and is thus a cause for concern.”

Despite the health risk, Environment Canada extended the exemption for racing vehicles to January 2010, and then removed the expiry date entirely. So, leaded gas is still being used in racing cars and trucks in Canada, with no end in sight. People who live near races are usually distressed about the impact of the noise on their health; do they even know about the lead threat?

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