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California Getting the Lead Out


Aired 4/19/09

California is one of the states getting the lead out - of wheel balancing weights. Studies have shown that when the lead-based wheel weights fall off cars and trucks they hurt water quality. That happens when the weights are ground down on the highways.

Caroline Cox with the Center for Environmental Health says the group has reached a legal agreement with Chrysler and the three largest producers of automobile wheel balancing weights.


Cox: It's going to eliminate from California what's probably the largest unregulated source of lead right now. Nobody really thinks about wheel weights that much but they're on virtually every car and truck tire.


Cox says the company's are required to end the use of leaded wheel weights in California by the end of 2009.


The U.S. Geological Survey says about 65,000 tons of lead wheel weights are in use on cars and trucks in the U.S.


The settlement will end the annual release of 500,000 pounds of lead into the environment in California - which occurs when wheel weights break off of automobile wheels.


A study in 2000 found that lead pollution from wheel weights "is continuous, significant, and widespread, and is potentially a major source of human lead exposure."


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