Mozambique – Leaded Gas Phase Out Task Force

the details…
Key pollutant
Lead
Source
Leaded Gasoline
Pathway

Air

Population affected
500,000
Children Under 6 Affected
100,000
DALYs averted
47,665
Industry
Energy
Date started
2001
Date completed
2005
Project Partners
  • Mozambique’s Ministry of Health
  • Ministry for the Coordination of Environmental Affairs (MICOEA)
  • Ministry of Mines, Resources and Energy
  • Grupo Ambiental de Jornalistas
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The Problem

Mozambique, like many other developing countries, uses leaded gasoline. While the adverse health effects of lead have been well-documented and many of the world’s countries have either completely phased out use of leaded gasoline or lowered lead concentrations, Africa remains as a bastion of leaded gasoline use. The primary lead exposure pathway is via airborne lead and lead in dust and soil. In congested urban areas vehicle exhaust from leaded gasoline accounts for some 90 percent of airborne lead pollution.

Health Impact

The effects of lead are the same whether it enters the body through breathing or swallowing. The main target for lead toxicity is the nervous system, both in adults and children. Long-term exposure of adults to lead at work has resulted in decreased performance in some tests that measure functions of the nervous system. Lead exposure may also cause weakness in fingers, wrists, or ankles. Lead exposure also causes small increases in blood pressure, particularly in middle-aged and older people. Lead exposure may also cause anemia. At high levels of exposure, lead can severely damage the brain and kidneys in adults or children and ultimately cause death. In pregnant women, high levels of exposure to lead may cause miscarriage. High-level exposure in men can damage the organs responsible for sperm production.

Project Activity

In August, 2004 it was announced following a Ministerial review of the Task Force’s Action Plan, that Mozambique is to ban the importation of leaded gasoline by the end of 2004, following the approval of the Blacksmith-funded Leaded Gasoline Phase-out Task Force’s Action Plan by government Ministers this month. Recently, the government removed price distortions on unleaded gas, making it cheaper for Mozambique to import unleaded gas rather than leaded gasoline. This development, in part due to the efforts of the Task Force, is a significant step in the phase-out process.

Blacksmith Institute initiated and has supported this initiative since 2001 with funds and technical assistance. The Mozambique Task Force, made up of representatives from Mozambique’s Ministry of Health, Ministry for the Coordination of Environmental Affairs (MICOEA), and the Ministry of Mines, Resources and Energy, has designed and will implement a plan to completely phase out the use of leaded gasoline in the country by mid-2005.

The primary goals of the task force are to work with government and industry to design the most efficient plan possible for the phase out and to educate the public on the health and social benefits. The group, along with the Grupo Ambiental de Jornalistas (see below), will also assist in public education.

Outcome

With funding and technical support from the Blacksmith Institute, the Government of Mozambique has ratified a ban on the selling and importation of leaded gasoline. Blacksmith Institute initiated and has supported this initiative since 2001 with funds and technical assistance. Blacksmith helped create the Mozambique Leaded Gasoline Task Force, made up of representatives from Mozambique’s Ministry of Health, Ministry for the Coordination of Environmental Affairs (MICOEA), and the Ministry of Mines, Resources and Energy, which designed and implemented a plan to completely phase out the use of leaded gasoline by mid-2005.