HomeNewsStudy Shows Leaded Gasoline Lowered IQ of 170M Americans

Study Shows Leaded Gasoline Lowered IQ of 170M Americans

by Madison Miller
Photo by: Fairfax Media via Getty Images/Fairfax Media via Getty Images via Getty Images

Is it possible that pumping gas has lowered your IQ?

Well, a brand new study seems to suggest, that, yes, it is in fact possible.

A new study is looking at the impact of leaded gasoline on Americans between 1940 and 2015. Specifically, they are looking at the childhood development of these individuals. Luckily, future generations won’t have to find out if this leaded gasoline impacted people in any way. It disappeared from our planet for good in 2021.

At a Glance

  • Study showed leaded gasoline impacted IQ scores with a 2.6-point score drop
  • Children born from 1950 to 1981 had higher blood-lead levels
  • Lead gas was officially banned in 1996

Does Leaded Gasoline Impact IQ Scores?

Researchers recently published findings related to IQ scores and leaded gasoline in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”

According to the Associated Press, there are definitive signs of this leaded gasoline impacting people. For starters, these Florida State University and Duke University researchers found that 90% of children born in the U.S. from 1950 to 1981 had higher blood-lead levels than the CDC’s recommended threshold.

Not only that, but this increase also ties into overall cognitive development. If exposed to this during early childhood, it could have resulted in a 2.6-point drop in a person’s overall IQ score. While this isn’t a massive decrease, it’s certainly something able to be calculated.

Leaded gasoline was the predominant way of lead exposure from the 1940s to the 1980s. Luckily, we started to phase out this form of gasoline in the 1970s before officially banning it in 1996.

While the findings aren’t necessarily surprising, they have been extremely frustrating for researchers. The lead author of the study, Michael McFarland, called the entire situation “infuriating.” It has been known for a long time that lead exposure was incredibly harmful and dangerous. We’ve been studying the impact of lead since it has been used throughout history.

Phasing out Leaded Gasoline

For those growing up in the 1980s in the U.S., they saw that most gas was unleaded at this point. However, about 20 years ago, leaded gas dominated the market of 117 different countries. This form of gasoline could cause lead poisoning if it came in contact with the skin.

Another health sciences professor at Simon Fraser University studied lead exposure and IQ in 2005. Not to mention, it led to heart disease and hypertension for some people, too. It also caused some premature deaths as well. He found the same results, but also believes we continue to go down the wrong path in connection to chemicals.

“The more tragic part is that we keep making the same … mistakes again. First it was lead, then it was air pollution. … Now it’s PFAS chemicals and phthalates (chemicals used to make plastics more durable). And it keeps going on and on. And we can’t stop long enough to ask ourselves should we be regulating chemicals differently,” he said to the news outlet.