With encouragement from the Natural Resources Council of Maine and others, Maine has recently become the first state to ban the use of lead wheel weights, which are used to balance tires.
Phasing out lead wheel weights in favor of safer alternatives protects the health of families, wildlife and the environment.
An estimated 20,000 pounds of lead are dispersed each year along Maine’s roadways from lead wheel weights that fall off of cars and trucks.
Lead wheel weights alongside roadways can contribute to lead levels in roadside dust and runoff that may be toxic to children and wildlife.
Children and others may be harmed from lead levels in roadside and urban dust and subsequent drinking well-water contamination. Lead wheel weights may also harm workers who install and handle them.
Pulverized lead dust from wheel weights also is a significant source of lead to Maine’s waterways. Studies have shown that 40% of the runoff in some residential areas and 70% in some commercial areas have lead levels “high enough to kill aquatic life.”
Lead harms every system of the body and individuals of all ages; it is especially harmful to children, fetuses, and adults of childbearing age.
Fortunately, here in Maine we will soon be using safer and cost-effective steel and plastic alternatives.