Working in the 1970s with children living near a lead smelting plant in West Texas, pediatrician and scientist Philip J. Landrigan made some startling, though now well-accepted, discoveries about the way lead affects children. Ignoring the health complications of excessive lead exposure, which are fairly obvious, Dr. Landrigan's work proved elevated levels of lead exposure result in a lower IQ in children. Using data about the decrease in IQ and the correlation of IQ to earning power Landrigan, and others, determined the loss in earning power for five-year-olds to be about $43.4 billion per year in this country. Landrigan went on to look at many other environmental issues but his biggest legacy may be in the reduction in the use of lead, especially in gasoline, around the country. It's the reason why you'd buy a Renault Le Car but find the words essence sans plomb inside the fuel door, as Graverobber and his mother once did in today's touching COTD.
Back in the '80s I went car shopping with my mom (god rest her soul) and one of our stops was the Pasadena AMC/Renault/Jeep dealer to look at the Medallion (R21 to you non-deodorant users) as a possible replacement for her aged Fairmont.
The sales people came crawling out of the shadows when we arrived, like hollow-eyed zombies from a post-apocalyptic landscape called France, and attempted to engage in the kind of car-salesman banter you would expect. Only, it had been so long since they had met a potential customer that all they could do was ask what the world outside was like, and whether or not we had brought brie.
Mom was only interested in a notch-back and all they had in the dark, claustrophobic showroom was a wagon, which had the wheelbase of a Kentworth tractor-trailer.
We begged off coming back to the customer's lounge to look at brochures and watch the mime perform. It was apparent that this was not the car for her, and that this showroom of the damned might be our final destination should we tarry too long examining the oddities of brand- "Essence Sans Plomb" it read inside the fuel door, and the tires were by Micheline - freaky.
She eventually bought a Taurus, and the dark, little dealership closed not long after. Years later, it was bulldozed and a Taco Bell went up in its place. When ever I drive by there now, I whisper to myself essence sans plomb . . . and slowly shake my head.
Oh well, had it been around longer it could have been a 10Best.