Thomas Midgley Jr. He was an American mechanical and chemical engineer who more than 100 years ago revolutionized the automobile industry, causing one of humanity’s greatest environmental disasters: Destruction of the ozone layer and poisoning of millions by inhalation of lead,
it all started 1920, a time when cars revolutionized the world, as it was indicated that they were more functional and ecological than the use given to horses as a form of transport. Although, The cars made a lot of noise and the engines suffered a lot from exploding pistons,
like this, Midgley, who worked General MotorsIntroduced in December 1921 tetraethyl lead, an additive that is added to fuel, reduces the ‘knocking’—or short detonation—that plagues a car’s engine. a) yes, Leaded gasoline, or as it was dubbed, ‘ethyl’, became the preferred gasoline in America,
So General Motors, dupont why standard Oil Make Ethyl Gasoline Corporation And they produced a vast amount of product that began commercialization in 1923 and generated a huge profit for Midgley. funny thing, Word “prominent” It is never used in advertising or promotional material, as it would alert the publicWho by then had come to know about its negative effects on health.
Thus, almost immediately, production began. Dozens of workers begin hallucinating, going insane, and dying at the newly opened manufacturing plant. From new Jersey, In October 1924, five employees were reported dead, while another 35 were drunk.
trying to demonstrate publicly that his invention was completely safe, he was thomas midgley who breathed in a toxic product and washed their hands at a press conference. This forced him to take leave to treat the consequences of his exposure to lead, although he continued to publicly defend ethyl E. indicated that workers had not taken adequate precautions,
Leaded gasoline results in the world
with the approval of US Surgeon General., The ethyl Was Most widely used around the world for decadesBy 1965, Claire Cameron PattersonA geochemist who measured the age of the Earth submitted his report that lead used in paint, cans of food and gasoline had managed to contaminate the planet and infiltrate people’s blood and bones.
Leaded gasoline was banned in the United States by 1986, and in 1998, Argentina also. Between 2000 and 2002, the The European Union He did the same. The last country to sell it was Algeria, which stopped selling it in 2021.
Later studies indicated About 250,000 people died a year from heart disease caused by lead.According to Environmental Health Perspectives; In addition, it reduced the intellectual capacity of children. The World Health Organization estimates that between 15-18 million children in developing countries suffer permanent brain damage from lead poisoning90% of which can be attributed to gasoline containing such a chemical element.
Deadly Refrigerators and the Ozone Layer
General Motors why thomas midgley He didn’t let himself stop after the success of ethyl, So he started with manufacturing home appliances including refrigerators. This product, which they introduced in 1928, proved to be a novelty considering the existence of the They indicated that it was not toxic or flammable.,
These characteristics were achieved thanks to the creation of gases from the family of Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), they called freonWhich was also used in air conditioning equipment and aerosols.
In the following decades, this compound became ubiquitous around the world, over time it was discovered that, as this gas was released into the atmosphere, it contributed to the destruction of the ozone layerresponsible for protecting us from carcinogenic UV radiation del Sol, and in that proportion generated a greater greenhouse effect than the use of automobiles.
It wasn’t until 1974 that a Mexican scientist Mario Molina Revealed the enormous damage caused by the release of these substances. with the signing of the protocol MontrealIn 1987, the use of cfc The decline began in the late 20th century due to definitive banning. According to experts, Ozone layer will be completely recovered by 2060Only if security actions are in place.
Midgley’s Tragic and Mysterious Death
In 1940, Midgley He contracted polio and was paralyzed. Because of this and his inventive skills, he created a bed with a pulley system that allowed him to move around his room without any help. Although, Four years later, on November 2, 1944, at the age of 55, he got entangled in the wires and was strangled to death., It was not entirely clear whether it was an accident or a suicide.