• 40 percent — petroleum’s share of global energy consumed in 1998
  • $246 — amount spent by the author on gasoline to drive a 1987 Honda Accord 5,700 miles on a cross-country road trip from Feb. 15 to March 15, 2000
  • $433 — estimated amount the author would have spent if he had driven a new Ford Explorer 4WD, the most popular sports utility vehicle in the U.S.
  • $725 — the cost of an equivalent amount of gas in 1981, adjusted for inflation to today’s dollars
  • 1.7 billion — the number of urban residents in developing nations who are in danger of lead poisoning
  • 90 percent — the share of airborne lead pollution in developing nations’ urban areas that is caused by leaded gasoline
  • 93 percent — the share of all gasoline sold in Africa in 1996 that contained lead
  • 0 percent — the share of all gasoline sold in Canada today that contains lead
  • $155 million — Octel Corporation’s 1999 profits from the sale of the gasoline lead additive TEL
  • 80 percent — Octel’s share of the world TEL market, which consists primarily of developing countries
  • 4 — the rank, by volume, of MTBE (methyl tertiary butyl ether) among organic chemicals produced in the U.S. (MTBE is a compound added to reformulated and oxygenated gasolines to reduce smog-causing air pollutants.)
  • 35 percent — the share of community drinking water wells in 31 U.S. states that are potentially threatened by MTBE contamination, as a result of fuel spills and leaking underground tanks

1 — U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration, “Tables E1 and E2,” International Energy Annual 1998.
2 — Receipts in possession of the author.
3 — Grist calculation, based on average price of $1.51 per gallon that the author paid and a 20-mile-per-gallon highway fuel efficiency for Ford Explorer 4WD vehicles, as listed in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy, 2000 Model Year Fuel Economy Guide, November 1999.
4 — Grist calculation, based on U.S. city average retail price for all types of motor gasoline of $0.909 per gallon in 1981, as listed in U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration,Monthly Energy Review. Price adjusted for inflation based on U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics,Consumer Price Index, All Urban Consumers.
5, 6 — World Bank Group, World Bank Recommends Global Phase-Out of Leaded Gasoline, Press Release No. 96/68S, May 18, 1996.
7 — Kitman, Jamie Lincoln, “The Secret History of Lead,” The Nation, March 20, 2000.
8 — Thomas, Valerie M., “The Elimination of Lead in Gasoline,” Annual Review of Energy and Environment, Vol. 20, 1995:301-24.
9, 10 — Business Wire, Octel Corp. Reports Fourth Quarter and Year End 1999 Results, February 10, 2000.
11, 12 — Johnson, Richard, et. al., “MTBE: To What Extent Will Past Releases Contaminate Community Water Supply Wells?” Environmental Science & Technology, May 1, 2000: 2A.