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Many motorists are ignoring rules on leaded gas, EPA says

Motorists are illegally pumping leaded gas into cars and disconnecting emissions controls at ''disturbingly high rates,'' putting as much as 8,000 extra tons of lead into the air each year, the Environmental Protection Agency reported Sunday.

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Surveying 1,800 cars in six states, the EPA found more than one-fourth of 1975- to 1983-model automobiles ''had at least one emission control device tampered with.''

The tampering is pouring into the atmosphere additional ''hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxides,'' said EPA Administrator William Ruckelshaus. This is worsening urban smog and aggravating respiratory problems that trouble millions of Americans, the EPA warned.