distribution of unleaded is about 1 to 2 cents per
gallon more than leaded. Wholesale and retail
pricing practices account for the additional dif-
ference between unleaded and leaded at the retail

Is It Illegal
to Put Leaded Fuel
Into a Car Requiring Unleaded?

Yes. EPA regulations  prohibit putting leaded fuel
into a  car designed for unleaded by any retailer
and his employees and agents or any fleet
operator and his employees and agents. Federal
regulations also prohibit the causing or allowing
this to happen. Private individuals are not  in-
cluded in these Federal regulations, but are pro-
hibited in many states from  taking any action
which could render inoperative any part of emis-
sion control system.    This prohibition  in-
cludes self-service stations, as long as the atten-
dant could reasonably be expected to be aware of
the improper fueling.  Violators are subject to a
fine of up to $10,000  per violation.
   As a safeguard against inadvertently using
leaded gasoline, cars  requiring unleaded gasoline
have restricted fuel filler inlets which  will accept
the small diameter spouts dispensing unleaded
gasoline, but  will not  accept the larger diameter
spouts dispensing leaded gasoline. Federal law
prohibits fleet  owners, commercial repair facilities,
dealers,  and automobile manufacturers from alter-
ing the restricted fuel  filler inlet  or removing the
unleaded gasoline labels from cars, but it does
not prohibit such acts by an  individual to his own
car.  However, a majority of the  states have laws
which do prohibit individuals from removing or
disabling emission control parts  and/or operating
cars with emission control parts removed.

What Is EPA  Doing
to Eliminate  or Reduce
Fuel Switching?
There  are several ways in which we are trying to
attack this problem. The most important of these
are: (a) working with  states in their adoption and
enforcement of fuels and tampering laws;  (b) in-
     forming the public, refining industry, and auto-
     mobile service industry about fuels and tampering
     laws; (c) increasing EPA enforcement activities;
     and (d) working with other Federal agencies to
     find alternatives to controlling the problem.

     What Can I Do?
     The emission controls are there to reduce the
     pollution and thus protect  public health. Over a
     billion dollars a year  are spent in the United
     States for emission control systems, the heart of
     which is the catalytic converter. The removal or
     disabling of these devices defeats a  vital portion
     of the nation's program to clean up the air. You
     can help clean the air by not putting or allowing
     anyone else to put leaded gasoline into your car if
     it requires unleaded.
      If you should learn of auto service or repair
     facilities that remove restricted filler  inlets on
     unleaded cars or of service stations  which permit
     illegal fueling, or if you have further questions,
     contact the nearest Regional Office  of the Envi-
     ronmental Protection Agency or EPA's Mobile
     Source Enforcement Division (EN-340), Washing-
     ton, D.C. 20460, (202) 755-2816.
EPA is charged by Congress to protect the Nation's land,' air and
water systems. Under a mandate of national environmental laws
focussed on air and water quality, solid waste management and the
control of toxic substances, pesticides, noise and radiation, the
Agency strives to formulate and implement actions which lead to a
compatible balance between human activities and the ability of
natural systems to support and nurture life.
                                                                                                                          If you have suggestions, questions, or requests for further information, they may
                                                                                                                          be directed to your nearest EPA Regional public information office.
EPA Region 1  JFK
Federal Bldg.  Boston
MA 02203  Connec-
ticut, Maine, Massachu-
setts, New Hampshire,
Rhode Island, Vermont 
617-223 7210

EPA Region 2  26
Federal Plaza  New
York NY 10007  New
Jersey, New York, Puer-
to Rico Virgin  Islands 

EPA Region 3  6th
and Walnut Streets 
Philadelphia PA 19106
 Delaware, Maryland,
Pennsylvania, Virginia,
West Virginia, District of
Columbia  215-597 9814
EPA Region 4  245
Courtland Street NE 
Atlanta GA 30308 
Alabama, Georgia,
Florida, Mississippi,
North Carolina, South
Carolina, Tennessee,
Kentucky  404-881-4727

EPA Region 5  230 S.
Dearborn  Chicago IL
60604  Illinois, Indiana,
Ohio, Michigan, Wiscon-
sin, Minnesota 

EPA Region 6  1201
Elm Street  Dallas TX
75270  Arkansas, Loui
siana, Oklahoma, Texas,
New Mexico 
214 767-2600

EPA Region 7  1735
Baltimore Avenue 
Kansas City MO 64108
 Iowa, Kansas,
Missouri,  Nebraska 

EPA Region 8  1860
Lincoln Street 
Denver CO 80203  Col-
orado, Utah, Wyoming,
Montana, North Dakota,
South Dakota 

EPA Region 9  215
Fremont Street  San
Francisco CA 94105 
Arizona, California,
Nevada, Hawaii, Guam,
American Samoa, Trust
Territories of the Pacific

EPA Region 10  1200
Sixth Avenue  Seattle
WA 98101  Alaska,
Idaho, Oregon, Washing-
ton  206-442 1220
                                          QJ O
                             ? X O X
                                                                                                             m >> -D m -n ~
                                                                                                                                                                                                          United States
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Environmental Protection
                                                                                                                                                                          OPA 148/8
                                                                                                                                                                          September 1978
45-EPA     Unleaded  Gas
                  The Way
                  To Go

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2 6273
Tihe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has
 ' determined that many drivers are using leaded
gasoline in vehicles requiring unleaded gasoline.
Such fuel switching can significantly increase
automotive emissions primarily through the de-
activation of lead-sensitive emission control
systems. This pamphlet answers the most com-
monly asked questions about fuel switching and
addresses some current misconceptions concern-
ing the "benefits" of switching.

What Is
Fuel Switching?
Fuel  switching is the use of leaded  gasoline in any
vehicle which is required to use unleaded
gasoline. Beginning with the 1975 model year
most cars have been designed  to use only un-
leaded gasoline in order to keep the emission con-
trol systems operating effectively and emissions
within acceptable limits. The great  majority of
cars requiring unleaded gasoline use catalytic con-
verters to control emissions. These catalytic con-
verters are deactivated by the use of a few tank-
fuls of leaded gasoline. Some vehicles without
catalysts also require unleaded gasoline in order
to meet emission standards. EPA observations of
refuelings around the country have shown that
approximately 10 percent of the motorists are

What Is the
Impact on
Air Quality?
A car equipped with a catalytic converter is
designed to  have emissions almost  90 percent less
than an uncontrolled car. When  the catalyst is de-
activated with leaded gasoline, hydrocarbons and
carbon monoxide emissions can  be expected to
increase to essentially uncontrolled  levels.  If 10
percent of the cars in the catalyst fleet are im-
properly refueled, there would  be an increase of
30 to 70 percent in emissions from  the fleet.
Therefore, even a low switching rate can produce
a substantial adverse impact on our ability to
reduce pollution  from cars.
   Fuel switching, by increasing emissions of air-
borne lead, carbon monoxide, and hydrocarbons,
harms human health. Airborne lead can lead to
neurological damage, as well as damage to the
blood-forming, kidney, reproductive, and gastro-
intestinal systems.  High levels of exposure can
cause brain disease, colic, palsy, and anemia, and
can be fatal. Children are particularly susceptible
to lead poisoning. Ninety percent of airborne lead
comes from car exhausts.
  Carbon monoxide (CO) combines with red
blopd cells and prevents them from absorbing
oxygen. In low levels this can lead to mental
dullness and poorer vision. In higher exposures,
CO can put a strain on the heart. Smokers and
persons with heart disease are particularly sus-
ceptible to CO. Heavy concentrations of CO can
be fatal. Cars account for 71 percent of CO emis-
  Hydrocarbons  (HC) combine with  nitrogen  ox-
ides in the presence of sunlight to form smog.
Smog causes lung and eye irritation  which leads
to headaches, eye discomfort, visual problems,
coughing, chest  discomfort, and fatigue. Persons
with asthma and other lung diseases are par-
ticularly susceptible to smog.  Cars account for 33
percent of total HC emissions.

Why Do Motorists
We suspect that people believe that  fuel switch-
ing will save them money or improve car perfor-
mance. The first reason seems more likely,
because the great majority of switches are to
cheaper regular gasoline.

Will a Driver
Save Money By
Not in the long run. There would be an initial sav-
ing since leaded  regular gasoline costs an average of
4-5 cents per gallon less than  unleaded. However,
leaded gasoline shortens the life of spark plugs,
exhaust systems, and carburetors. Tests by a
major refiner on a fleet of vehicles in 1972
showed that maintenance costs, averaged over the
car's lifetime, were about 4.5 cents per gallon
higher for leaded fuel. This would be about 7
cents per gallon in today's dollars. And this
doesn't consider the inconvenience of extra trips
to the repair shop.

Will Fuel Switching
Engine Knocking?
If the motorist switches to a  higher octane
gasoline, either leaded or unleaded, knocking (a
pinging noise which is heard if the fuel pre-ignites
in the cylinder) may be reduced. Any improve-
ment, however, would depend upon the octane
of the gasoline and not upon whether it contains
lead. If a higher octane gasoline is needed to pre-
vent or reduce knocking, higher octane unleaded
gasoline is generally available.

What Is Octane,
and What Octane
Does My Car Need?
Octane is an indication of the ability of a gasoline
to resist knock. It is not particularly related to any
other quality of the gasoline. There are several
methods of measuring octane, each of which can
produce its own value. The three most commonly
used octane designators are the research octane
number (RON), the motor octane number (MON),
and the anti-knock index (AKI),  which is the
average of the RON and MON. The RON  has
been the most commonly used.  It averages about
4 points higher than the AKI, which is the number
that appears on gasoline pumps. Thus, if an auto-
mobile will run satisfactorily  on 91 octane RON,
then gasoline from a pump  labeled 87 octane
(AKI) should be adequate.
  According to automobile  manufacturers, most
cars built  since 1971 have been designed to run
on  91 RON (87 AKI) gasoline, without serious
knocking. However, because of variations in pro-
duction, design, and use, cars have wide varia-
tions in octane requirements. Therefore, some
cars will require higher octane gasoline than
others in order to avoid knocking. Once the oc-
tane is high enough to prevent knocking, there is
no advantage in using a still higher octane gasoline.
How Would Switching
Affect the Fuel Economy
of My Car?
It would be unlikely to have much effect. Fuel
economy depends on the amount of energy re-
leased when gasoline is burned. This is called its
specific heat. On the average, unleaded gasoline
has a slightly higher specific heat than leaded
gasoline.  Recent fuel economy tests by a major
refiner using eight major brands of gasoline gave
an average of 14.7  miles per gallon using leaded
gasoline,  and 14.9 miles per gallon using un-

Can Fuel Switching
Void a Car's
Fuel switching can  affect your ability to recover
under the warranty. Under the Clean Air Act, car
manufacturers are required to provide a 5-year or
50,000 mile warranty, whichever comes first, that
each car  is free from defects which would cause
the car to exceed emissions standards.
  When leaded gas is used in cars requiring
unleaded, the emission  controls (particularly the
catalyst) will be deactivated.  In addition, lead
deposits will form inside the engine and, under
certain circumstances, may contribute to the
failure of an  engine part. The  use of leaded
gasoline can increase the  difficulty of an owner
who attempts to recover under the warranty.

Why Does
Unleaded Gasoline
Cost More?
Refiners add lead to gasoline in order to boost the
octane to a level of marketable quality. In produc-
ing unleaded gasoline, refiners must further pro-
cess the gasoline in order to  boost the octane.
This additional processing is more costly than just
adding lead. Additional costs are also incurred
because unleaded gasoline must be protected in
the distribution system  in order to prevent con-
tamination by leaded gasoline. This necessity for
more careful handling extends from the refinery
to the retail outlet.  The cost for refining and