You will observe with concern, Ben Franklin wrote in 1786, how long a useful truth may be known known and exist, before it is generally received and practiced on.
Franklin mentioned lead poisoning as an occupational hazard for printing. Yet 228 years later, we are still grappling with the issue.
The latest event sparking concerns is the conviction of four Associated Octel managers for bribery and conspiring to sell leaded gasoline despite bans. (Octel is now Innospec).
According to the Serious Fraud Office of the UK government:
“The bribes were intended to secure, or serve as rewards for having secured, contracts from the Government of Indonesia for the supply of Innospec products including Tetraethyl Lead, also known as TEL, a highly dangerous organo-lead compound that was created as an octane booster to be added to engine fuel. Leaded fuel, i.e. fuel that contains TEL, was banned in the UK in 2000 due to links between the compound and severe neurological damage.
“None of these defendants would consider themselves in the same category as common criminals who commit crimes of dishonesty or violence….. The real harm lies in the effect on public life, the effect on community and in particular with this corruption, its effect on the environment. If a company registered or based in the UK engages in bribery of foreign officials it tarnishes the reputation of this country in the international arena.”
It’s an interesting statement. None of the people who developed or pushed leaded gasoline in the US, long after the useful truth was known, would consider themselves as common criminals either. Yet there is still an enormous cleanup of lead in inner cities that no one wants to take responsibility for.