It kind of makes sense that lead is still the primary material used to make wheel balancing weights, as one of the heaviest metals and relatively cheap, but with the countless studies showing how the toxic metal causes severe health and environmental damage, perhaps it would make more sense to ban the stuff and come up with a less deadly alternative. That’s the main point of a new proposal by the E.P.A., which has overturned the previous agency policy of
kissing the feet of lead industry lobbyists studying the issue further and is now going to follow the lead of European nations (who are of course way out ahead on this issue) and finally ban it from our roads. You see, the little SOBs keep flying off folks’ wheels, landing in estuaries and such, leading to frogs with 12 legs and an uncanny taste for Taco Bell nacho cheese … that sort of thing.
Perhaps most surprisingly, the groups that use and produce these weights aren’t screaming bloody murder. Maybe they sense that getting on the wrong side of a “lead issue” isn’t the best PR move, after that recent Chinese toy scandal. Steel and zinc are two alternatives that industrial weight manufacturers can switch to with relatively little disruption, although because these metals are lighter, they will lead to thicker and more expensive weights. Even Wal-Mart is voluntarily on board, saying they feel it’s “the right thing to do.” Look, when Wal-Mart signs on to a public health move, you know it’s a done deal. Anyways, bully to politicians, the EPA, and the relevant industries for actually doing the right thing here.