By Stu Johnson, Kentucky Public Radio
The city of Lexington is rolling along with its effort to make all tires in its vehicle fleet ‘lead free.’ Lead wheel weights have been used for years to balance tires. From now on, when city vehicles come off the road for tire maintenance, new environmentally friendly weights will replace lead weights. Environmental Initiatives Specialist, Jada Griggs says lead weights can create a health hazard.
“They do fall off. We know they fall off. There have been studies done that prove they fall off and then are run over by other vehicles. Then, they become powder and then that gets into our environment and into our water stream,” said Griggs.
Lead wheel weights are not commonly used at the S and S Tire store in Lexington. Owner Wayne Palmer says his store has been using a stick-on composite weight product for about two years.
“It is a little bit more costly. It does balance better. We do see a better effect on the balancing of the tires and just to be proactive we know that lead is gonna be a thing of the past relatively soon,” said Palmer.
Palmer says the newer alloy wheels found on many cars today don’t accommodate lead wheel weights. He says the lead weights are used occasionally for older vehicles. Palmer and Griggs both expect the lead weights to be banned eventually.