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Wheel weights and lead exposure: EPA asks for feedback


Washington — As the Environmental Protection Agency considers regulating the manufacture, processing and distribution of lead wheel weights, it’s seeking stakeholder feedback on how workers and families may be exposed to lead.

An advance notice of proposed rulemaking published April 3 includes a list of industries that could be impacted. Among them: vehicle and parts manufacturing, lead ore and zinc ore mining, and general automotive repair.

“Wheel weights are used to correct imbalances in the weight distribution of motor vehicle wheels,” EPA says in the ANPRM. “Lead is the primary component of many wheel weights, though alternatives such as steel, zinc alloy and plastic-metal composite are now widely available.

“Workers and other people, including children, may be exposed to lead released through the manufacturing, processing, distribution, use or disposal of these wheel weights. Additionally, people may be exposed when lead dust from these products is tracked into homes and other indoor places. Lead exposure can cause irreversible and life-long health effects.”

As required under the Toxic Substances Control Act, should EPA determine that using lead wheel weights presents an “unreasonable” risk to human health and the environment, the agency will issue proposed rulemaking to address it.

Feedback is due May 3.

EPA says that its call for comments is a response to concerns raised by the Ecology Center, Sierra Club and others in a lawsuit filed in August. The petitioners requested that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit direct EPA to conclude regulations the agency agreed to consider in 2009.

Under a proposed settlement agreement published March 13, EPA would:

  • Publish an ANPRM concerning lead wheel weights
  • Sign a proposed rule by Dec. 31; sign or take final action on a final rule by Sept. 30, 2025; or decide to not proceed with rulemaking

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