Lead wheel weights, widely used to balance vehicle tires but considered a threat to drinking water, will be phased out in California by the end of next year under a court settlement approved Wednesday.
The settlement ends a lawsuit filed in May by the Oakland-based Center for Environmental Health against Chrysler and the three largest makers of lead wheel weights for the U.S. market. Some observers see the settlement as a first step toward a broader ban on the products.
In its suit, the group contended that wheel weights falling off vehicles release 500,000 pounds of lead each year into the environment in California. Lost wheel weights are ground down by passing vehicles and the lead can find its way into drinking water supplies, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. They also end up in landfills, where the lead can leach into groundwater.
"Wheel weights have been identified as the largest new route of lead releases into the environment," said Michael Green, executive director of the Center for Environmental Health. "By moving the industry away from leaded wheel weights, we are helping to keep the lead out of our kids' drinking water."
The Ecology Center, a nonprofit environmental group based in Ann Arbor, Mich., said the California settlement should provide a big boost to the anti-lead forces.
"We fully expect dozens of states to follow California's leadership and ban the use of lead wheel weights," said Jeff Gearheart, the center's research director. [emphasis added]
Article here. Who needs balanced tires, anyway? Sigh.