cancel
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Leaded gas lowered America's IQ, and we're still using it

There have been dozens of silver-bullet solutions to the automotive industry's problems over the years. However, once manufacturers, the public, and the government realize that some solutions not only fail but perpetrate the same toxic phenomenon, they take swift action. Just kidding. Regulatory bodies are infamous for moving at an ambulatory pace when it comes to managing toxins.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/maintenance-and-tech/leaded-gas-lowered-americas-iq-and-were-still-usi...
247 REPLIES 247
cwp
Pit Crew

Interesting article. I'm curious which other countries are still using leaded fuel for cars, if there are any left.
sclin10
Instructor

"...over half of Americans have lost some degree of intellectual capacity."
This is not surprising.
Camarojoe
Detailer

I was born in 58...been a car nut all my life, this explains why my wife thinks I'm an idiot most days! Well...may be some other character flaws in there as well, but now I can blame TEL. My new excuse.
BossGreg
Detailer

It's not that you are an idiot. Your wife is really smart, and it just seems that way
vincethrockmort
Pit Crew

countries that still use leaded gas:
1 Algeria
2 Iraq
3 Yemen
4 Myanmar
5 North Korea
6 Afghanistan
DaveP
Detailer

Regardless of what they use, I still would not want to live in any of them.
Tim
Technician

Good news for me is that none of those are on my bucket list! 😄
BMD4800
Engineer

USA - racing fuel.
Inline8OD
Technician

All of whom still retain the barbaric, unjust death penalty, treat women like chattel.

TimK
Advanced Driver

I think the collective IQ of America was higher when we had lead in all gasoline as opposed to the allegedly high IQ clowns running things these days.
Bokeoyaji
Intermediate Driver

It's quite possible that there may be a time lag from the time of heavy use of leaded gas to the rising of the "clowns."
Inline8OD
Technician

So why don't you run for office and see how well you'd do?

uweschmidt
Instructor

contrary to common beliefs you can only run for an impotant office unless the Powers that are will let you ( at least in my world) Closed to a Dictatorship is there any real dmocracys left anywhere?
TimK
Advanced Driver

I don't run for office because I prefer to run with a better class of people.
Mike56
Pit Crew

That is just silly .... The ones running this circus are all the old farts like me from the height of the lead era.... LOL
TimK
Advanced Driver

No, the puppet is just the front man. He isn't running anything.
Yachtboy
Pit Crew

Just one of many factors contributing to the appalling stupidity here. But if you look at it on a global level, it's so much worse. As a former pilot I used to spend a lot of time being upset over the FAA's R and R but in the end, I was probably better off being a bit over protected as we all are.
The key though as the writer points out is to get not just the FAA to move as well as other agencies, but industry as well to create better solutions with better technology. It costs more for sure but we live longer meaning we get to do more and be more than ever before. I'll spend my money on that any day because you're going to be a long time dead.
Gimmea6
Pit Crew

There is a gas station in Staunton, Va. that sells leaded gas. I wonder what it is used in.
cestor01
Intermediate Driver

aircraft, racing cars, farm equipment, and marine engines.
Tom9716
Detailer

Pre-Early-70s classic cars, too. The don’t have the hardened valve seats needed to withstand unleaded gas.
elvacarsdallas
Intermediate Driver

I think some leaded gasoline available on lakes for boat motors.
Tinkerah
Engineer

If it's any cheaper than the unleaded, it's used in everything that pulls in.
BB66Vett
Intermediate Driver

Leaded fuel in a modern auto will destroy the catalytic converter by coating it with lead residue.
BiffNotZeem
Intermediate Driver

What a mess of an article.

“Lead was actually a fuel substitute when first brought to market.”

A fuel substitute? It was brought to market as an additive.

And you do realize that cherry-picking data to try and make a point is a bad thing, don’t you?

cestor01
Intermediate Driver

It isn't possible in the space allotted for a response to explain all the errors in this article. In short, just about every sentence of this article is either blatantly wrong or is misleading. Lead in gasoline always was a minimal contributor to blood levels. The major contributors were lead in drinking water pipes and lead in household paint, both of which have declined dramatically. Whether lead is in gasoline or not is really inconsequential.
-Curtis Story, MD
Tim
Technician

No citations?

Any idea just how many gallons of leaded fuel were sold each year? I have no idea how one could say that would be a "minimal contributor" with any understanding of tailpipe emissions and smog. Also, lead in paint itself wasn't the issue. The issue is when the paint flakes, which is something that can be managed and prevented. But just as we learned about lead in paint, we learned that it's unnecessary and that it's much better to remove it in the first place than try to manage it after-the-fact.
cestor01
Intermediate Driver

There are no citations because, as I said, I do not have the space or time to refute all of the misinformation contained in the article.
Inline8OD
Technician

Nonsense.  It's a terrific, long overdue, and unexpected article,  and if you went to med school should be embarrassed attacking it with wholesale condemnation.  Your peers, if you are a medical doctor,  know better.

BB66Vett
Intermediate Driver

Can you tell us what does the use of marijuana do to one's memory?
GRP_Photo
Technician

It lets you temporarily forget your problems. Unfortunately, they will still be there the next day.
cestor01
Intermediate Driver

How is it "long overdue"? The laws to remove lead from gas were passed decades ago, and much debate was had about lead content of gasoline then. The use of lead in gasoline is currently so little, it isn't even worth mentioning. I do not advocate adding lead back to fuel. We routinely test for lead blood levels in children (who are the population most affected by it), and I have only seen one case of high lead levels in my 30+ year career. I have tested several adults (who have read misleading articles like this one), who insisted that they must have had toxic exposure, none of which had elevated levels.
Jimmyo
Intermediate Driver

So doctor, how much lead is safe in your grandchildren's bodies? The answer is zero. You should learn how the wholesale poisoning of the entire earth with lead from gasoline came to light. You might think that once the dangers of leaded fuel were known, we rushed to ban it, but we didn't. There was a lengthy fight complete with "doctors" hired by oil companies swearing that lead in our air, water, and food was perfectly fine. The fight was similar to fighting tobacco companies that told us cigarettes didn't cause cancer and oil companies who'll will tell you that CO2 from fossil fuels doesn't cause climate change.
cestor01
Intermediate Driver

Zero lead exposure is environmentally impossible. I am not advocating lead in gasoline, nor anywhere else. I am simply speaking out against rampant misinformation.
Inline8OD
Technician

Thank you, Jimmyo.  Terrific points.   Apparently, some here gathered think disagreeing with anything the car or oil industries ever did makes them less of a bonafide car buff.   

Redenzo
Intermediate Driver

There is another current use of leaded fuel- in racing. I can still buy leaded racing fuels at some race tracks- why? Don't know since most race engines now don't need the added lead to either protect valve seats or prevent detonation. Sunoco and I believe VP still make it. Lead poisoning is a real deal and in fact is something (along with a lot of other environmental hazards- including particulate pollution and heavy metals) that pose a genuine health risk. We have been fortunate to have been spared from the current levels of pollution in places like China and India, but now with the newest Supreme Court ruling limiting EPA authority on carbon mitigation- this may be in question as well- can you say a return to the "bad old days"!
BMD4800
Engineer

Sigh - concentrations.

How much hydrazine is in your water? Go ahead, check.

Radon in your basement?

Oh, don’t forget about fungal lung infections from blowing dust.

Life is terminal. Leaded race gas and leaded AvGas are not a 1st tier problem. They are a minor annoyance, similar in relevance to the toxic effects of barbecue smoke.

I’m not disputing the health effects, I’m disputing the magnitude of impact.
GreenHornet
New Driver

I am one of those that grew up on leaded gas in my cars, born in 1943 until lead was taken out.
I hardheartedly do not agree that my generation, silent and baby boomer have lower IQs than the social justice warriors and snowflakes that were born more recently and are now in their 20s and 30s. I have been a patriot for our country not like the authors high IQ sjws and snowflakes of today.
Inline8OD
Technician

So those concerned with preserving democracy are "snowflakes" and somehow less "patriotic" than you?

azaustin
Pit Crew

It’s interesting to note that this article completely ignores the fact that many aircraft operate 90+ octane unleaded auto fuel. All of the Rotax four-cylinder engines use it as a recommended fuel, over 100LL aviation fuel. Many aircraft engines that were originally certified to run on 80 octane avgas can be legally operated on unleaded fuels if the owner applies for an STC (Supplemental Type Certificate.) I owned a Cessna 150 some years ago that ran better on unleaded auto fuel than it did on avgas. The oil stayed cleaner and spark plugs lasted significantly longer. Much of the use of auto fuels was pioneered by the Experimental Aircraft Association in the late 70’s and early ‘80’s. One of the other obstacles to the use of unleaded aircraft fuel in aviation engines is the fact that they still use magnetos whose design dates from the early 20th century and have fixed timing except for starting. Electronic magnetos, knock sensors, and modern computerized ignition and fuel systems could go a long way towards making unleaded auto-type fuels work in aircraft. Thanks, in large part, to many products pioneered by the EAA and Sport Aviation, the certificated aircraft engine manufacturers are slowly starting to incorporate more modern engine technology into their products. The big obstacle, as mentioned in the article, is the government, which, in this case, is the FAA. The onerous certification and testing requirements necessary to introduce new technology simply makes it economically difficult because the aviation market won’t support it. Moving to the internationally accepted ASTM standard that the Light-Sport segment of the aircraft industry is allowed to operate under would do a lot to alleviate this. However, if leaded aviation fuels were universally banned overnight, many, if not most, small, and many large, airports would close, because the private aviation segment would shut down almost overnight. That would mean no place for turboprop aircraft to land, which would shut down air carrier operations like FedEx, UPS, and even Amazon. Air Ambulances would lose their base of operations. The list goes on and on. Most communities have no idea how dependent they are on commercial and private aviation. Criticize the General Aviation Manufacturers Association if you will, but they see the handwriting on the wall, and I believe they will innovate if allowed too. Waiting for the government to act on and solve this problem is a guaranteed recipe for failure that will rely on the tried-and-true practice of kicking unpopular and difficult problems down the road to the next administration or office-holder.
Kyle
Moderator

Thanks for commenting. You bring up an interesting point re: the use of auto unleaded fuels being used in plans. I was not aware that individual owners could apply for and get STCs for alternate fuels. That merely moves the hurdle to storage and filling, no? Without a pump on the tarmac this owner would need to truck in their own fuel?

You are right on with the rest of your thoughts. There is a lot more reliance on piston-powered planes than some might realize.
GRP_Photo
Technician

Yes, if the airport doesn't have a mogas pump (and many do), the aircraft owner brings their own. I fueled my Cessna from five-gallon cans. I knew a man who once had a small trailer with a tank and fuel pump.
There are tricky things about it. Use high-test gas. Buy your fuel from busy stations to avoid old gas. Don't use fuel with alcohol added, because the alcohol is hydroscopic and behaves badly at altitude.
Sonnymccut
Pit Crew

In Texas, it is hard to find autogas pumps at airports, most airports do not have mogas anymore, if they ever had it. It’s equally difficult to find gas stations that do not have added ethanol. At one time, I used my Chevy Suburban as my “fuel truck”. It had a 32 gallon tank. I used a 12 volt battery with alligator clamps attached to an external auto fuel pump mounted in a plastic battery box to pump gas from the suburban into the two 12.5 gallon wing tanks on my Cessna 120. After replacing a $1,000 carburetor and told by my mechanic that ethanol ruined my carburetor, I stopped using autogas. I’ve hear the same story from many other aircraft owners who had the STC.
GRP_Photo
Technician

The owner doesn't usually "apply for" STCs; he buys them. What is done, is one aircraft owner re-registers his/her aircraft as "experimental" and starts running it on mogas. He cannot use it in the usual fashion and cannot carry passengers for several hundred hours. If problems arise, he modifies the aircraft to suit and continues testing. If the plane performs just like a stock aircraft for a certain number of air hours, the owner is granted a "supplementary type certificate", which he can then use and sell to others. He then re-certifies the aircraft back to the original type so he can use it as the manufacturer intended.
The EAA ran tests with a Cessna 150 and determined that it ran just fine with mogas with no modifications. I bought my STC from them for $100. What I got was two stickers to apply around the filler tubes to show attendants at the airports that it was OK to pump mogas into the tanks. That plane was originally certified for 80-octane leaded fuel.
Maule ran tests with my MX-7 and determined that certain fuel system components had to be changed by the factory to safely use mogas. I no longer remember what they charged for the STC, but I felt it was too much at the time. I would also have had to fly the plane back to the factory for the work, which would've taken two or three days (weather permitting). That plane was originally certified for 100-octane leaded fuel.
Sonnymccut
Pit Crew

Only a small percentage of older, low performance aircraft engines are eligible for the 87 octane unleaded auto gas STC and very few owners now operate their airplanes with autogas. Many of those who had the STC and ran auto gas in their airplanes, including me, later found that the ethanol was causing unintended consequences with airplane carburetors. The ethanol resulted in erosion of seals, gaskets, needles and seats and other parts not able to sustain use of autogas. Failing carburetors and leaking engines caused many pilots to discontinue using autogas in airplanes.
GRP_Photo
Technician

The FAA is not an obstacle. The FAA simply says, "you say it's safe, PROVE IT." Aircraft engines use magnetos or combination electronic system and magnetos simply because other systems have a single point of failure. If you want to use electronic ignition systems instead of magnetos, you MUST have two of them. Since they both require power sources, you MUST have two batteries and two alternators. For most aircraft, the weight of these items is prohibitive.
drollmann
New Driver

I recall working at a gas station on the Eastside of Milwaukee that sold leaded gas until the early 90's. Most cars on the Eastside were old and needed the lead for the valves. Very interesting story and for decades I've wondered why small aviation still used leaded gas.
Oldroad1
Gearhead

Marvel Mystery Oil Is a great top oil for valves. Been using it for years.
Inline8OD
Technician

A late friend was a very young aero mechanic at the Alameda Naval Air Station in 1942, said Pan Am's chief of maintenance swore by Marvel, ordered it by the 55-gallon drum.   Any trouble with those big Pratt & Whitney Cyclones over the Pacific meant a long, wet walk home.

  Red Line Lead Substitute is a smart alternative, using benign sodium in place of the vile neurotoxin of tetraethyl lead.

Tsaxman
Instructor

OK, bad anecdote. I hope you find it mildly amusing, anyway.

Around 2000, there were still two local gas stations selling 106 octane racing fuel. I had a Buick 455 GS built beyond Stage 1 specs. So, occasionally, I would pull up to the leaded pump and start filling my tank. The store clerk would come over the intercom and tell me that it was illegal and I had to pump it into acceptable containers (ostensibly to take to the nearby track). By that time, I probably had a half a tank, which I would then top off with premium unleaded. Old gear heads purists could always smell it when I pulled up, and say "racing gas?"

Anyway, there was a favorite health food restaurant frequented by one of my musician friends. We pulled up in the back, where there was a great parking space near the door, with a sign that stated:

"Alternate fuel vehicles only."

Yes, that was my 1971 GS parked there.
BWeston
Intermediate Driver

...there are a lot of older women out there named ETHYL that are going to be very unhappy with this article!!