About Lead Wheel Weights

Reinventing the Wheel Weight

Sacramento, Calif. -- New state legislation now makes it illegal in California to sell, manufacture or install lead wheel weights. Violators can end up facing a hefty penalty: $2,500 per day, per violation.

Lead wheel weights are defined by the new law, California Health and Safety Code Sections 25215.6-25215.7, as any weights containing more than 0.1 percent lead. The law took effect Jan. 1, 2010, and applies whether a weight is installed on a new vehicle or is removed and reinstalled during wheel balancing. Vehicles manufactured on or after Jan. 1, 2010, and sold in California must have lead-free weights, and vehicles manufactured in 2009 or before must switch to lead-free weights whenever the tires are changed or rebalanced.

Lead: A Toxic Element

Lead has been used in wheel weights since the 1930s, but it can be highly toxic and has been linked to a wide variety of health hazards throughout all systems of the body. These effects include neurological and behavior problems, especially in children.

California banned the sale, manufacture and installation of lead wheel weights to help keep lead from leaching into water supplies and other parts of the environment.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that "1.6 million pounds of lead are lost in the United States when wheel weights fall off during normal driving conditions (e.g., hitting a pot hole)."

Passing traffic often grinds the lead into particles that contaminate the air and the surrounding area. High levels of lead are typically found along urban roadways and in runoff from parking lots. In California alone, the U.S. EPA estimates that half a million pounds of lead are released into the environment each year as a result of wheel weights falling off cars and trucks.

Wheel weights   Wheel weight


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