Prevent Companies From Selling Toxic Diesel

Target: Helena Molin Valdés, Head of the Climate & Clean Air Coalition, United Nations Environment Programme

Goal: Ban commodity companies from selling diesel with illegal toxin levels.

Oil companies are putting people’s health at risk by turning crude oil into cheap, toxic diesel that is poisonous enough to be illegal in most countries and selling it in places with weaker standards of regulation. This diesel has sulfur levels that hugely exceed what is legal in Europe, so Swiss companies are pawning it off on African cities, which are already some of the most polluted in the world.

Over three years, samples were taken from gas stations in eight African countries. In more than two thirds of those samples the sulfur level in the diesel was 150 times higher than the European limit. What’s worse, this cheap, toxic fuel is often made from high quality crude oil that came from Africa in the first place. African countries are being taken advantage of when they provide good quality raw materials and in return they are sold sub-par diesel that threatens the health of their citizens.

This money-making scheme results in a massive amount of air pollution, which is dangerous to the environment as well as to the urban communities where this pollution runs rampant. Air pollution causes more deaths than any other environmental risk — approximately 5.5 million deaths per year. The actions of these companies should not be legal, and cannot be allowed to stand. Sign below to prevent commodity companies from endangering human health to make some extra money.


Dear Ms. Valdés,

Dangerously toxic diesel is polluting the air in many African countries because of the actions of Swiss companies like Vitol and Trafigura. They obtain their crude oil from Africa, but then sell back a product that they cannot legally sell anywhere else due to the hazardous sulfur levels.

Standards of regulation in Africa are significantly lower than in Europe, which allows these companies to exploit African cities and the health of African citizens in order to make a profit. This process should not be legal, especially considering that in European countries that level of toxins would be illegal. Two-thirds of diesel samples taken from African gas stations across eight countries contained 150 times more sulfur than the legal limit in Europe.

The resulting air pollution is extremely dangerous, especially considering that it is occurring in cities that are already some of the world’s most polluted. Air pollution causes about 5.5 million deaths annually — more than any other environmental risk. These urban populations should not have to pay with their health and perhaps their lives to allow commodity companies to turn a profit. I urge you to stop these companies from taking advantage of these countries by selling toxic and substandard diesel that they could not legally sell anywhere else.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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