Alternatives to Lead Use in Wheel Weights

A number of governments have already begun to recognize the threat that lead pollution from wheel weight degradation poses to human health and the environment. Japan has called for a drastic voluntary reduction in the use of lead in vehicles, and Nissan and Toyota have both responded. Nissan has stated that it will reduce most uses of lead in vehicles by fully two-thirds by 2005, and Toyota has called the reduction of lead use in its vehicles an "urgent objective." The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) aims to cut all uses of lead, excepting batteries, to one-third of 1996 levels by 2005. Perhaps most significantly, the European Union has amended its directive on end-of-life vehicles to ban the use of leaded wheel weights by July 2005. This ban applies to all vehicle types approved before July 1st, 2003, and to the wheel weights intended for servicing those vehicles. The ban has successfully eliminated the threat that leaded wheel weights pose and replace them with more environmentally responsible alternatives in Europe.

Although a variety of alternatives are being developed(high density polymers, internal balancing systems and other plastic-based balancing systems) the most viable options appear to be Zinc or ZAMA (an alloy of zinc, aluminum, and copper) or steel weights. Most European and Asian new cars have been converted to zinc or steel weights (respectively) already. (see vehicle survey)

IMPORTANT NOTE: ratings do not provide a measure of health risk or chemical exposure associated with any individual product, or any individual element or related chemical.

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