At the end on the 1920’s, advertising beat the drum to spread marvellous news: “Fly, don’t ride.” Leaded gasoline made you go faster, and going faster meant getting ahead in life. The ads showed a car going at a snail’s pace, and the embarrassed child inside: “Gee, Pop, they’re all passing you!”
Gasoline with lead additives was invented in the United States, and from the United States a barrage of advertising imposed it on the the world. In 1986, when the U.S. government finally decided to outlaw it, the number of victims of lead poisoning around the world was incalculable. It was known all along that leaded gasoline was killing adults in the United States at a rate of five thousand a year, and causing irreparable damage to the nervous systems and mental development of millions of children.
The principle authors of this crime were two executives from General Motors, Charles Kettering and Alfred Sloan. They have gone down in history as generous benefactors of humanity. They founded a hospital.
Eduardo Galeano, Mirrors. Portobello Books, 2009 (2008)