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MMT on its way out in Canada.

The controversial fuel additive, MMT, may finally be disappearing from Canadian gas. A recent survey by Sierra Club of Canada revealed that virtually every major refiner of gasoline in Canada has started phasing out MMT, a manganese based replacement for lead. Like lead, manganese is neuro-toxic. MMT is also a threat to air quality due to its propensity to gum up catalytic converters in automobiles.

MMT results in more air pollution. Its health and environmental threats led the Canadian government to ban it in the late 1990s. However, various trade challenges, including Chapter 11 of NAFTA, resulted in the repeal of the legislation. Nevertheless, pressure from the car makers, environmentalists and health protection groups has not disappeared.

According to the Sierra Club of Canada, so far Shell Canada, Irving, Imperial, PetroCanada, Suncor and Ultramar have stopped using MMT. Only Co-Op and Husky are still adding the controversial agent to gas.

One of the world's leading experts on the neurological effects of manganese, Dr. Donna Mergler of Universite du Quebec a Montreal says, "A voluntary phase-out of MMT in Canada is very good news. As a consequence, we should see reductions in environmental exposure to manganese. Although manganese is an essential element that we get through food, in higher quantities it can be toxic. When it is inhaled, it is taken up quickly into the blood and the brain. Our studies have shown that higher blood manganese can lead to slowing of motor functions, particularly among the elderly. In our aging society, this can have important consequences for care and autonomy. I hope that we will continue monitoring for manganese in our environment and carry out studies that will inform us about its effects, particularly in susceptible populations, such as children and the elderly. In this way, we will be able to act preventively if the issue arises again."

The situation in the U.S. mirrors that now unfolding in Canada. Although MMT was forced to be registered by court action taken by the manufacturer, Ethyl Corporation of Richmond, Virginia, no refinery in America will use it due to consumer and environmental group rejection.

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Title Annotation:Good news: dispatches from around the world about healthy, sustainable living; controversial fuel additive
Publication:Natural Life
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2005
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