Paper No. 38
Presentation Time: 5:30 PM-8:00 PM
DISTRIBUTION OF LEAD WHEEL WEIGHTS IN AN URBAN SETTING: DETERMINING THE HAZARD TO HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT AND INCREASING PUBLIC AWARENESS
One of the concerns of automobile pollution is the contamination of lead wheel weights along our nation’s roads and highways. A significant amount of lead in our environment comes from the distribution of wheel weights that have fallen off of automobiles. There are approximately 200 million automobiles and light trucks that travel our nation’s roadways. Lead tire weights are used on almost all of these vehicles as a way to balance their tires. The EPA estimates that 1.6 million pounds of lead is left on the US roadways through the loss of lead tire weights from automobile tires. As a highly toxic chemical, lead has been designated as one of 31 priority chemicals targeted by the EPA to be reduced as contaminant in the environment. Lead tire weights that fall off of automobiles become worn down and ground up into small particles and dust. These particles then can be introduced into the environment through rain water run-off. The dust can be picked up by pets and people and brought into homes and businesses exposing adults and children to this dangerous toxin. The goal of this research is to bring about public awareness to the negative impact lead contamination has on the environment and public health as a result of the loss of lead tire weights from urban automobiles.
The purpose of this study was to determine the amount of lead tire weights deposited on highly traveled urban roads. An area of 2.3 miles on a busy urban highway going through Powder Springs, Georgia was studied. From August to November lead weights were collected 6 times from the 2.3 mile area. Each individual weight was weighed and its condition noted. There 218 lead weights collected with a total weight of 24.078kg, the maximum weight was 71.02g and the minimum weight was 2.63g (small worn and weathered fragment). Of the weights collected, 52 were broken and highly abraded without clips.