In the early 1920s, scientists working for General Motors made a discovery they believed could eliminate the engine knock that plagued early automobiles. By adding lead to gasoline, they were able to silence the quaking engines. But their solution would prove hazardous. Lead is a known poison and has been blamed for numerous health problems, including developmental problems in children. Media studies professor William Kovarik (Radford University) argues that General Motors, Standard Oil and DuPont—all of whom were involved in the sale of the fuel additive in the US for more than 50 years—ignored early tests and accidents that demonstrated the dangers of leaded gasoline. Their reason, he says, was profit.

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