The Clean Fuels Development Coalition is rolling out a public education and consumer awareness campaign aimed at calling attention to evidence that gasoline emissions are a threat to human health.
CFDC Executive Director Douglas Durante says that just as public awareness of the health hazards brought about removing lead from gasoline and paint and drove efforts to limit secondhand smoke, it can also bring about removing dangerous carcinogenic compounds from gasoline.
“This is no different from the lessons of tobacco,” Durante says. “Once we were educated we acted. The EPA has the authority and the responsibility to reduce toxic carcinogens to the greatest extent possible, and we all need to demand they do so.”
As part of a research effort on the dangers of gasoline emissions, the CFDC produced a fact book titled “What’s In Our Gasoline Is Killing Us.”
Durante says he believes that if the public gets a better understanding of just how dangerous gasoline is, there will be a growing demand for change.
The group is working in cooperation with Urban Air Initiative, which has been conducting research on fuel components, their contribution to emissions and the impact of those emissions on health. CFDC says that transportation related pollution accounts for as many as 50,000 premature deaths every year and drives up health costs by billions of dollars.
The public relations campaign will be with a series of public service announcements titled “You Don’t Know Jack About Gasoline,” and a petition drive to collect signatures urging the EPA to make changes to make gasoline safer. The group will also be initiating a “Safe Gasoline Campaign” on Facebook and Twitter.
The CFDC says the core of the problem is that when lead was removed from gasoline it was replaced with benzene-based octane enhancers. Benzene has been long known as a carcinogen.
The American Cancer Society, the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the American Petroleum Institute all agree that the “only safe level of benzene is zero.” However, benzene-derived octane enhancers make up about 20% of the content of gasoline. As gasoline burns, microscopic benzene particles come out of the tailpipe of cars and contaminate the air that people breathe.
The fact book documents the rise in air pollution and how it correlates to increasing concentrations of aromatics (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene) commonly called BTEX.
These compounds have been strongly linked to health issues such as cardiopulmonary disease, lung cancer, breast cancer, asthma, premature birth, low birth weights and even autism.
“Light duty vehicle exhaust emissions are the predominant source of hazardous air pollutants that represent an exposure risk to urban residents and anyone living near a major roadway,” says David Vander Griend, president of the Urban Air Initiative. “These pollutants can be directly traced to the 25-30% of gasoline additives that petroleum refiners use to increase octane.”
The Clean Fuels Development Coalition provided some of the content of this article.