A few years ago, Hugo Chávez famously claimed that George W. Bush had left the podium of the UN “reeking of sulphur.”
He should know about that. Turns out, Venezuela ranks 99 out of 100 countries in terms of sulphur content in its gasoline. The maximum allowable sulfur dioxide content in our gasoline is 1,000 ppm. For comparison, Cameroon allows 500 ppm maximum. In Germany, the maximum amount is 10.
Sulphur and lead in gasoline (which some people have linked to higher crime rates) are really, really bad for you. Sulphur dioxide, in particular, is thought to be a clastogenic and genotoxic agent, i.e., it changes your chromosomes. Here’s the money quote from this web page:
Exposure to 100 parts of sulfur dioxide per million parts of air (ppm) is considered immediately dangerous to life and health. Previously healthy nonsmoking miners who breathed sulfur dioxide released as a result of an explosion in an underground copper mine developed burning of the nose and throat, breathing difficulties, and severe airway obstructions. Long-term exposure to persistent levels of sulfur dioxide can also affect your health. Lung function changes have been observed in some workers exposed to 0.4–3.0 ppm sulfur dioxide for 20 years or more. However, these workers were also exposed to other chemicals, making it difficult to attribute their health effects to sulfur dioxide exposure alone. Additionally, exercising asthmatics are sensitive to the respiratory effects of low concentrations (0.25 ppm) of sulfur dioxide.
Chávez’s Caracas truly is hell on Earth.
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