Environmental Protection

New York No Longer Tolerates Lead Wheel Weights

Those who violate the ban can face stiff penalties, including fines up to $1,000 per violation and an additional $1,000 per day the violation occurs.

Starting today, the sale and installation of lead wheel weights is banned in New York.

Wheel weights typically weigh only 1.25 ounces, are less than 2 inches in length, and are affixed to the inside of or on a vehicle’s wheel, out of sight, in order to balance the tire and wheel assembly. Still, the impact of the ban will be significant: The typical vehicle has eight to 10 wheel weights on it and the roadways in the Empire State support more than 11 million vehicles at any one time, so the net effect is approximately 100 million weights.

New York is the seventh state to ban lead weights, joining California, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, Vermont, and Washington.

Kevin Keefe, vice president of marketing for Hennessy Industries, which has led the wheel weight industry’s transition away from lead and to steel, applauded the move.

“It’s not often that every single citizen of a state participates in an activity that is good for the environment; but from here on out, any time New Yorkers have their wheels balanced, they’ll be doing it in a more environmentally responsible way than ever before, and odds are they won’t even realize it,” said Keefe.

Lead, one of 31 priority chemicals targeted for reduction by the EPA, has long been the material of choice for wheel weights. In recent years, however, virtually all worldwide automobile manufacturers have voluntarily moved away from lead weights as part of vehicles’ original equipment, and major tire retailers such as Wal-Mart, Costco, and Bridgestone/Firestone have discontinued the use of lead weights. Some large retailers and many smaller, independent shops continue to install lead weights in the aftermarket, however, and with no nationwide ban on lead weights, states have taken up the issue on their own.

Those who violate the ban in New York can face stiff penalties, depending on circumstances, including fines of up to $1,000 per violation (and an additional $1,000 per day the violation occurs).

New York Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal said: “We are all well-aware of the dangers of lead, both to human health and the environment. What people may not realize is that many tiny wheel weights, which are clipped on to the wheel’s rim to help keep the wheels balanced, are made mostly of lead. When these weights come loose, they are crushed by other vehicles, and are responsible for spreading lead dust into the air and water. Preventing the sale or use of these lead wheel weights, which easily can and are already being made of steel, will have a significant impact on people’s health and the environment.”

Hennessy is headquartered in La Vergne, Tenn., with manufacturing facilities in Tennessee and Kentucky.

Source: Hennessy Industries

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