WASHINGTON (July 15, 2009)—July 30 is the deadline for interested parties to submit comments on a petition by two environmental groups to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to ban outright the use of lead wheel balancing weights.
The EPA issued the call for comments today in the Federal Register. It received the petition from the Sierra Club and the Ecology Center of Ann Arbor, Mich., May 29 and has until the end of August to rule on the petition. If it grants the petition, the agency must set out to promulgate a ban on lead weights; if it denies the petition, it must give its reasons in detail.
Lead wheel weights, for decades a staple of the tire industry, are already being phased out across the U.S. The EPA established last year a voluntary “National Lead-Free Wheel Weight Initiative,” endorsed by the nation 's wheel weight manufacturers as well as the Sierra Club, Goodyear, Bridgestone/Firestone and all the major auto makers, among others.
The wheel weight makers—Plombco Inc., Perfect Equipment Inc. and Hennessy Industries Inc.—also agreed with Chrysler L.L.C. in 2008 to a voluntary phaseout of lead wheel weight distribution in California. The Washington State Legislature voted in April of this year to ban lead wheel weights in their state.
The Ecology Center of Ann Arbor petitioned the EPA once before for a lead wheel weight ban, in 2005. The center, the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations charge that lead wheel weights represent one of the largest discharges of lead into the environment, threatening severe soil and groundwater contamination and endangering children and aquatic life.