The United Nations Environment Programme says sub-Saharan Africa will meet a January first deadline to switch to lead-free gasoline.
UNEP says South Africa's expected switch to lead-free gasoline on that date achieves a promise made at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development.
Lead is used as a fuel additive to help engines run smoother, but it has been linked with a wide range of ailments such as brain damage in babies and young children.
More than 30 other nations continue to use leaded gasoline. UNEP will launch a new program in 2006 to convince those remaining nations to switch to lead-free gas by 2008.
The first phase of the program will be initially aimed at the Middle East and parts of Asia.