Campaign to eliminate lead in gasoline [Archives:2006/1003/Front Page]

November 30 2006

By: Mahmoud Al-Harazi
SANA'A, Nov. 28 ) Yemen is one of 22 countries still using leaded gasoline, but wheels are in motion to eliminate the use for cars in country.

“Replacement of lead-free gasoline will be within the framework of the third five-year plan for development and alleviating poverty from 2006 to 2010. In keeping with the Arab environment ministers and other Arab countries, including the GCC, which are decreasing use of leaded gasoline,” said Mahmoud Shedioaw, chairman of the public authority for protection of the environment.

Yemen is one of few countries still using lead in gasoline which can primarily affects children and the development of the mental and nervous systems in all people.

The Ministry of Water and Environment, the Ministry of Oil, the Ministry of Transport and the Environment Protection Authority are all working together to get rid of lead in gasoline, which needs to time and effort, but there are some organizations that will help the ministries and with cooperation between ministries they hope to reduce the environmental pollution.

“We will get rid of lead in the gasoline and will be used some another addition which it is not harmful to the environment and humans in particular,” said the minister of water and environment, adding that the idea for eliminating lead in gasoline may have come too late.

The minister said Yemen has been slow to ban lead because of a lack of awareness on this subject. And now “we are working on a refinery in Marib to produce unleaded gasoline.”

The problems of environmental pollution lead to the presence of many diseases and most of these diseases are respiratory diseases and cardiovascular diseases caused by pollution, according to Dr. Zaid Ahmed Atef, the deputy director-general of the Al-Thorah hospital in Sana'a.

“A scientific study says that the children's ability to absorb the pollutants is higher than the elderly,” said Atef.

To keep children from absorbing the pollutants the problem needs to be treated at the source of pollution.

“Cars are the key reason for existence of lead in the air and in the human body and in our country there are more than 70 percent of the existing cars contributing to the presence of lead,” said Mohammed Al-Audarous, the head agent for Toyota cars in Yemen.

There is a plan to create a new committee concerned with the problem of pollution to apply a strategy to eliminate lead.

The minister of water gave a blood sample to test for lead in his blood and now a complete testing campaign will include school children, traffic policemen, trade shopkeepers, and drivers especially the buses drivers.