Shadows of Consumption Assignment
1)Commodity: It is a gasoline contains an additive named “tetraethyl lead” that can increase the octane of gasoline, and thus reduce engine pinging. (Dauvergne 2012: 67) Unintended consequences:It was super popular when it first created, but the leaded gasoline had been eliminated around the world by 2008. Hidden social and ecological cost: It can reduce fertility and increase sperm abnormalities as well as contribute to premature births and low birth weights. And it can impair impulse controls and social skills, even contributing to delinquency in children and criminal behavior in adults. Globalization:The leaded gasoline was considered as a kind of super fuel that went popular in the whole world. Shadows of consumption: Lasting toxic health effects; air pollution; Illnesses and even death of poisoned workers;
a. Summarize production:
The need for an effective antiknock agent was greater after WWI, when the world uurned to lower-quality oil reserves. Thomas Midgley Jr and his team had been searching for an effective additive to increase the octane of gasoline, and thus reduce engine “knock” or pinging. Using the periodic table ,they worked toward the heavy end of the carbon group, then they tested tetraethy lead (at the DuPont plant on 9 December 1921 )which was effective, inexpensive and was easy to obtain.(Dauvergne 2012: 67)
The GM Chemical Company was formed in 1923 to market ethyl gas. The many advantages of the gasoline brought some easy marketing victories.(Dauvergne 2012: 69) It found no hard evidence of poisoning from exposure to leaded gasoline brought a green light for the Ethyl Corporation at that time.(Dauvergne 2012: 72)
The company also began to advertise ethyl as an efficient gasoline sold by responsible oil companies able to enhance a car’s power while reducing vibration. (Dauvergne 2012: 72)
The efforts to counter opponents of leaded gasoline became better coordinated after 1928 with the formation of the Lead Industries Association.(Dauvergne 2012: 74)
Research done by “authoritative” lab made the U.S. Government became so confident and agreed to raise the voluntary standard tetraethyl led per gallon of gasoline in 1958.Then the greatest expansion of tetraethyl lead has occurred.(Dauvergne 2012: 75)
Lead poisoning from the exhaust of automobiles running on ethyl gas.
Illnesses and even death of poisoned workers.
Potential long-term health effects of lead emissions from automobile exhaust.
The concentrations of lead around100 times higher than natural levels, while the level of lead in the atmosphere of the northern hemisphere was more than 1,000 times higher than natural levels.(Dauvergne 2012: 75)
The public health threat from lead was more appropriately seen on a continuum, with acute poisoning at one end and chronic low-dose poisoning at the other.(Dauvergne 2012: 76)
Even low-dose poisoning exposure has toxic health effects on vulnerable groups such as children and pregnant women.
It can reduce fertility and increase sperm abnormalities as well as contribute to premature births and low birth weights. And it can impair impulse controls and social skills, even contributing to delinquency in children and criminal behavior in adults.
d.Civic or political actions:
The New York City Board of Health banned ethyl gasoline; the state of New Jersey and the cities of Philadelphia and Pittsburg soon followed.
GM contracted the U.S.Bureau of Mines to investigate the health effects of tetraethyl lead.
There were stricter safety rules for manufacturing and distributing tetraethyl lead.
The company agreed as well to follow the voluntary standard set by the Surgeon General.
Some critics from prominent professors and scientists.
GM announced in Jan 1970 that it would install catalytic converters by 1974. Before long, other automakers were announcing similar plans to install catalytic converters.(Dauvergne 2012: