Thomas Midgley Jr.. What a well-meaning guy with terrible ideas.
His idea was to add lead to gasoline fuel (gasoline) to prevent self-ignition (see
). Unfortunately, this turned out to be extremely dangerous to your health. Lead, known for its toxicity over 2000 years, can accumulate in human blood, bone and brain and can cause all kinds of harmful effects such as nausea and disorientation from kidney failure, seizures and, of course, death.
The decision to use it was based on the basically speculative thinking that the small amounts emitted into the atmosphere would be insufficient to affect human health.
Leaded gasoline largely disappeared from use in the U.S. and Europe in the late 1990s/early 2000s, as evidence of harm to public health began to mount.
Undeterred, his next proposal was to use chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) as a supposedly non-toxic, non-flammable refrigerant. In widespread use, they degraded the ozone layer from a few decades until, once again, the damage they were doing and the alternative became evident.
Translator’s note: According to the Encyclopedia Britannica. Thomas Midgley Jr.