The future of lead wheel weights in the U.S. remains as clear as mud. For all the obvious reasons the industry should shift to steel, zinc or other weight materials, state and federal governments seem to be in no hurry.
The federal government in particular has been slow to adopt legislation or regulations that would make the manufacturing, distribution, selling and servicing lead wheel weights illegal.
“The EPA accepted a petition in 2009, and for a while they had a proposed rule that was scheduled for publication in sometime between 2011 and 2012 and we still haven’t seen it,” says John Gilkeson, principal planner for toxic reductions at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. “I’ve personally tried to contact a number of people at EPA to find out what’s going on. I can’t get an answer.”
But dealers don’t need to wait for regulation; many have already taken action. “Legislation certainly plays a role in overall market awareness and it forces those inside a regulated area to make the transition,” says Gregory Parker, marketing manager at Wegmann. “Many tire retailers, large and small, are leading the charge and making the switch even though they are located in non-regulated states.”
Six states (in red) have taken legislative action against lead wheel weights. A state-by-state approach will leave dealers and drivers with potentially unique solutions at the same problem.
Tire retailers may lead the charge, but according to Hennessy’s Kevin Keefe, wheel weight manufacturers are hesitant to make the complete shift without a safety net.
This article was originally written for Tire Review by Matt Bemer
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