June 1, 2009

EPA asked to ban use of lead tire weights

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should outlaw the use of lead tire weights to prevent potential problems with children and wildlife, groups say.

A dozen environmental groups and scientists have sent a petition to the U.S. agency asking it to add the metal items used to balance vehicle tires to the federal government's list of banned lead-based products, the San Francisco Chronicle said Monday.

We found in our research that this was one of the last unregulated sources of lead into the environment, Center for Environmental Health spokesman Charles Margulis said. Massive amounts of lead come off every year from wheel weights dropping to the side of the road.

Groups such as the Center for Environmental Health, a non-profit organization in Oakland, Calif., suggest the lost tire weights could eventually be found by wildlife or children.

Those consuming the tire weights could potentially face serious neurological problems due to the objects' lead content, the Chronicle said. Children especially are susceptible to such problems, which can range from behavior to intelligence issues.

An EPA spokeswoman said a response to the petition would come within 90 days.