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Environment Canada's Gasoline Regulations: A discussion paper on the potential extension of the exemption for leaded gasoline used in competition vehicles

Leaded Gasoline Used in Competition Vehicles

Gasoline is the most common fuel used in racing. Both leaded and unleaded gasoline formulations are used in Canadian racing. For engines with high compression ratios, a very high octane gasoline is required to prevent engine knock (and resulting engine damage) and to maximize power output. Lead additives are used to achieve this high octane. Leaded gasoline that is imported for use in Canada has reported lead contents ranging from 0.1 to 4.23 g/L.

The Gasoline Regulations have reporting requirements for anyone producing or importing leaded gasoline. The reports indicate that there is no Canadian production of leaded gasoline for use in competition vehicles. In 2005, 1,160 cubic meters of leaded gasoline was reported as imported for use in competition vehicles. This represents 1.1% of the leaded gasoline pool in Canada (the remaining is used for aviation purposes) or 0.003% of all gasoline produced or imported into Canada.

The estimated breakdown of leaded gasoline sales for racing in Canada is as follows:

  • stock cars - 15 to 40%;

  • dragsters - 40 to 50%;

  • motorcycles - 10 to 20%; and

  • others (boats, personal water craft, snowmobiles and go karts) - 5 to 10%.

During consultations on the 2003 amendments to the Gasoline Regulations, the racing industry explained that leaded gasoline was required for racing vehicles. For example, the President of the Valcourt Grand Prix pointed out that 35-40% of racers use leaded fuel. The Canadian Boating Federation indicated that approximately "15% of the classes use leaded fuels" and that "some of the very high compression engines can only use leaded fuels as in racecars".

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