Leaded petrol phased out in the Algeria - the last country to stop using the fuel

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The last country in the world to use leaded petrol has stopped selling the highly toxic fuel, bringing an end of its use in cars, the United Nations (UN) environment office said on Monday.

Algeria halted the sale of leaded petrol last month and the UN Environment Agency declared the "official end" of its use, which has been blamed for causing several health problems.

"The successful enforcement of the ban on leaded petrol is a huge milestone for global health and our environment," UN Environment Programme's (UNEP) executive director, Inger Andersen, said.

Petroleum containing tetraethyl lead, a form of lead, was first sold almost 100 years ago to increase engine performance.

It was widely used for decades until researchers discovered that it could cause heart disease, strokes and brain damage.

UNEP cited studies suggesting that leaded gas caused intellectual impairment in children and millions of premature deaths.

Most wealthy nations started phasing out the fuel in the eighties, but it was still widely used in low- and middle-income countries until 2002 when the UN launched a global campaign to abolish it.

Austria was the first to ban the fuel for road vehicles in 1989, with a host of countries from across to world following suit.

The UK banned leaded petrol in 2000.

Leaded gas is still used in aviation fuel for small planes.

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