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Monday, 20 March, 2000, 21:15 GMT
Controversial fuel additive to be banned

The United States has announced plans to phase out a fuel additive used in a third of the nation's petrol supplies, following environmental concerns.

The chemical, methyl tertiary-butyl ether, was first introduced as a way of tackling air pollution in big cities by cutting car exhaust emissions.

But environmental groups and farmers say it causes cancer and has contaminated ground water.

The US Environmental Protection Agency said it was acting because Americans deserved clean air and water, but never one at the expense of the other. It is to encourage ethanol and other grain products as an alternative. The additive is also used in many European countries, but usually in less concentrated form.

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