Large-scale use of leaded gasoline was an important source of the neurotoxin lead in the European environment. After a sequence of regulations on the allowed gasoline lead content and, eventually, a ban on the use of lead additives in gasoline, road transport was no longer considered a source of atmospheric lead. Currently a discrepancy exists between measured atmospheric lead concentrations and model-predicted concentrations, suggesting that lead emissions to the atmosphere may be underestimated. Recently it was suggested that lead emission from unleaded gasoline combustion is still an important source and may (partly) fill the gap between modelled and observed atmospheric lead concentrations. In this paper we assess the plausibility of the latter suggestion by following various emission estimation methodologies. The uncertainty of lead emissions from road transport is further reduced by chemical analysis of fuel samples. The result of our assessment is that lead from road transport fuel combustion is not the missing lead source needed to fill the gap between modelled and observed lead concentrations. Road transport is still a source of lead through brake wear and a small contribution from exhaust emissions but this contributes no more than 5-8% of the EU25 total emission. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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