The increase of petroleum prices by almost 100% hasn't synchronized with quality improvement. When the Indonesian government decided to raise the gasoline price, the government was supposed to be implementing the unleaded gasoline regulation. But because there was no petroleum quality adjustment, the people are paying too much for gasoline which is still leaded. "In fact the gasoline price in Indonesia is more expensive than the international price," said The Joint Committee for Leaded Gasoline Phase-Out (KPBB) Coordinator, Ahmad Safrudin to the press in Jakarta, Monday (3/10) afternoon.
In the same day, a series of Blood Lead Level test in 5 major cities (Bandung, Yogyakarta, Surabaya, Jakarta and Makassar) was was officially launched. These activities were supported by United States Environmental Protection Agency (US-EPA). Today, only several areas: Greater Jakarta, Cirebon District, Bali and Batam Province are supplied with unleaded gasoline.
Lead exposure through air, food and skin can cause various health problems. Among children, lead poisoning can cause decreasing of IQ points and growth distortion. Among adults, lead poisoning can cause hypertension, heart attack, kidney failure and nerve problems.
Ann Carroll MPH from US-EPA said that all humans can be exposed to lead, but the highest risk group is pregnant mothers and children. About 95% of lead absorbed by human body is deposited in the bone, 4% in soft tissue especially brain, liver and kidney, while the rest is deposited in the blood.
Although several countries have already introduced unleaded gasoline, the negative impacts of lead poisoning are still affecting the world.
(edited from a Kompas Newspaper article, 4 Oct 2005)