The Canadian government has ignored warnings from health officials and extended a regulatory exemption that will allow race cars and other competition vehicles to use leaded gasoline for two more years.
The cabinet added a year to the exemption the Environment Department originally proposed last December.
Under the change, approved by cabinet late last month, drag and stock car racers will have until Jan. 1, 2010, to halt the use of leaded fuel, which has been banned for use by all other passenger vehicles in Canada since 1990.
The IndyCar, Formula One and NASCAR racing circuits, including Canadian NASCAR, no longer allow leaded fuel.
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The Canadian exemption has been in place since 1994, when the Liberal government of Jean Chretien responded to the cancellation of a major racing event in Quebec the previous year because of the ban.
Health Canada has said even low-level exposure to lead can harm the intellectual development, behavior, size and hearing of infants.