Consultation document: regulations to prohibit the manufacture and import of lead wheel weights

Prepared by

Environment and Climate Change Canada

February 2017

1. Consultation objective

The objective of this consultation document and the corresponding 30-day electronic public comment period is to solicit feedback from stakeholders and the public regarding proposed regulations to prohibit the manufacture and import of lead wheel weights destined for the Canadian market. Comments received will help to inform the development of the proposed regulations.

In addition to seeking stakeholder input on the regulatory approach, we are asking that stakeholders respond to a few specific questions to help guide certain aspects of the regulatory development process.

2. Background

Health Canada published a Risk Management Strategy for Lead in 2013, which identifies current and additional Government of Canada actions to reduce Canadians’ exposure to lead. The Strategy contains clear objectives, performance expectations and timelines. Among the additional actions identified in the Strategy is a commitment by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) to investigate the need for actions to encourage the use of alternatives to lead wheel weights in Canada.

Lead has historically been the preferred metal for wheel balancing because of its corrosion resistance, density, malleability and ductility. During regular use, lead wheel weights routinely fall off vehicles and eventually abrade into lead dust, which disperses into the environment. This dust can build up in soil, enter waterways through runoff or be inhaled. An ECCC-commissioned study estimates that every year approximately 114 tonnes of lead are released directly into the environment from this route.Footnote1

A public consultation on proposed risk management options to address this issue took place in Toronto, Ontario on August 26, 2014; followed by a 30-day comment period. This consultation gave stakeholders an opportunity to provide feedback on the following options:

  1. Regulations that would prohibit the manufacture and import of lead wheel weights destined for the Canadian market; and  
  2. Environmental Performance Agreement (EPA) with key stakeholders (e.g., wheel weight manufacturers, importers, distributors and main tire dealers) to phase out lead wheel weights in Canada.

Over 20 stakeholders attended the public consultation session and an additional 12 stakeholders provided comments to ECCC during the online comment period. These comments were considered during the selection of the proposed risk management instrument. A summary of the stakeholder comments and related ECCC responses is available on-line.

Given the overwhelming stakeholder support for a regulatory approach, ECCC proposes to prohibit the manufacture and import of lead wheel weights destined for use in the Canadian market.

3. Overview of the proposed regulations

Objective of the regulations

The objective of the proposed regulations is to reduce exposure to lead by prohibiting the manufacture and import of lead wheel weights destined for the Canadian market. This approach will prevent new wheel weights containing lead from entering the Canadian market, thereby progressively reducing Canadian wheel weight stocks. Accordingly, ECCC anticipates a 90% reduction of lead wheel weights lost on Canadian roads within 5 years after these regulations come into force.

Since automotive parts manufacturing is a globally integrated market, the objective of the proposed regulations will be to align, where possible, with prohibitions in other jurisdictions, such as the European Union and a number of US states (e.g., New York, Minnesota, Maine, Illinois and California). See the Annex for a complete list.

Acknowledging the importance of recycling to environmental protection, the proposed regulations would permit a specific amount of lead content in wheel weights to account for possible recycled impurities.

Authority

The proposed regulations are being developed under section 93(1) of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA).

Scope of application

The proposed regulations would

  1. prohibit the manufacture and import of wheel weights that contain more than 0.1% by weight of lead destined for use in the Canadian market.

The proposed regulations would not apply to:

  1. the sale or offer for sale of lead wheel weights;
  2. the manufacture for export ; and
  3. the transit through Canada of lead wheel weights regardless of their lead content.

Questions for stakeholders

  • What is the highest concentration of lead that would typically be found as an impurity in a wheel weight?

  • What standards or procedures would require modification in order to comply with the proposed 0.1 % concentration limit for lead impurities?

  • Are alternative wheel weights available for heavy-duty or medium-duty passenger vehicles (e.g., trucks and buses)? If so, how prevalent are they in the Canadian market?

Coming into force

The proposed regulations would include a one-year transition period before coming into force. This period would allow manufacturers and importers time to transition to non-lead wheel weight alternatives.

Questions for stakeholders

  • What changes to your operations would be required to ensure compliance within the 1-year transition period? How long would it take to implement these changes?

  • What type of information or training would be most effective in assisting aftermarket repair shops to comply within the transition period?

Reporting, record-keeping or permits

Reporting, record keeping and issuing of permits are not expected to be requirements under the proposed regulations.

Question for stakeholders

  • Are there any critical uses that would require the manufacture and import of lead wheel weights after the proposed regulations come into force?

4. Economic and other considerations

The Government of Canada introduced the “One-for-One” Rule and the Small Business Lens to help reduce the administrative burden to industry and government that can result from the introduction of new regulations and to account for administrative and compliance challenges that small businesses might face..

“One-for-One” rule

The “One-for-One” rule aims to reduce administrative burden on business and government and to limit the growth in the number of federal regulations in force. The rule requires regulators to repeal an existing regulation each time a new regulation is introduced that creates an administrative burden on business.

Small business lens

The Small Business Lens takes into account the specific needs of small business to help identify the most effective and least burdensome method for addressing these needs. Small businesses, including their affiliates, have fewer than 100 employees or between $30,000 and $5 million in annual gross revenues.

Questions for stakeholders:

  • Does the average cost for a repair shop to install lead wheel weights differ from the cost to install an alternative? This includes:

    • direct incremental cost/savings (e.g., new products/equipment and the time required for the installation);
    • indirect incremental cost/savings (e.g., training employees and implementing new procedures).
  • Do you expect that these costs/savings would change within 5 years after the proposed regulations come into force (i.e., as the aftermarket become more comfortable with alternatives)? For example, installation times could be reduced and upfront costs for training and equipment may decrease.

5. Alternatives

When possible, ECCC would like to encourage the use of alternatives to lead wheel weights that would reduce or minimize environmental and human health risks. ECCC observed that, new cars entering the Canadian market currently have lead-free wheel weights installed, and some aftermarket facilities have been using alternatives, such as zinc and steel.

It should be noted that the Chemicals Management Plan (CMP), a Government of Canada initiative aimed at reducing the risks posed by chemicals to Canadians and their environment, is in its third phase. This phase of the CMP, launched in May 2016, will address the remaining 1550 priority chemicals, including zinc. The draft screening assessment report for zinc on its ecological and health impact is anticipated to be published in 2017-2018.

Also, it is recommended to consult the Products Containing Mercury Regulations. These regulations prohibit the manufacture and import of products containing mercury or any of its compounds, with some exemptions for essential products which have no technically or economically viable alternatives. Under the Products Containing Mercury Regulations, the import and manufacture of tire balancing products containing mercury are prohibited.       

6. Next steps

Webinar presentation and discussion
March 9, 2017
30-day electronic public consultation period on this consultation document
April 6, 2017
Publication of the proposed regulations in Canada Gazette, Part I
Spring 2018
Publication of final regulations in Canada Gazette, Part II
2019
Coming into force of the regulations
2020

Stakeholders are invited to submit information and comments on the content of the proposed regulations. ECCC welcomes the distribution of this consultation document to any interested or affected parties. A copy of this consultation paper is available on the CEPA 1999 Environmental Registry.

Pursuant to section 313 of CEPA, any person who provides information to the Minister of the Environment under CEPA may submit with the information a request that this information be treated as confidential.

Comments and information submissions on this regulatory proposal can be submitted by mail, fax or email to one of the following addresses:

Mail:

Director
Products Division
Environment and Climate Change Canada
Place Vincent Massey, 9th Floor
351 St. Joseph Blvd.
Gatineau QC  K1A 0H3

Email:

ec.produits-products.ec@canada.ca

Please type “Lead wheel weight regulations” in the subject line of your message.

Fax:

Director
Products Division
Environment and Climate Change Canada
Place Vincent Massey, 9th Floor
351 St. Joseph Blvd.
Gatineau QC  K1A 0H3
819-938-4480 or 1-888-391-3695

Annex - Existing controls or regulations in other jurisdictions

In proposing this regulatory approach, the following controls or regulations in other jurisdictions were considered.

US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA)

  1. The National Lead-Free Wheel Weight Initiative was established in 2009 to encourage manufacturers and several retailers to use alternatives.

United States

  1. California, Health and Safety Code Section 25215.6-7, prohibits the manufacture, sale, or installation of wheel weights containing more than 0.1% lead. A person violating this law can be penalized up to $2,500 per day per violation.
  2. Illinois enacted legislation under the Illinois Compiled Statutes (415 ILCS 5/22.23c) Vehicle Wheel Weights, that prohibits use of a weight or other product to balance a vehicle wheel or tire if the weight or other product contains mercury that was intentionally added during the manufacturing process or contains more than 0.1 % lead by weight.
  3. Kentucky, a bill was introduced in 2012 to prohibit the installation of wheel weights containing lead or mercury on a motor vehicle; and prohibit the sale of new motor vehicles equipped with wheel weight containing lead or mercury. However, this bill died and was not turned into law.
  4. Maine, enacted legislation under the Waters and Navigation Chapter 16: Sale of Consumer Products Affecting the Environment, banning the sale, use and offer for sale of wheel weight or other product for balancing motor vehicle wheels if the weight or other balancing product contains lead or mercury that was intentionally added during the manufacture of the product.
  5. Maryland introduced a bill in 2016 that prohibits specified persons from using, allowing to be used, or selling lead or mercury wheel weights after specified dates. The State is required to ensure that no vehicle in the State fleet is equipped with an externally attached lead wheel weight that is composed of greater than 0.1% lead by weight or greater than 0.1% mercury by weight after January 1, 2018. The bill was approved on third reading March 2016 and will be voted in 2017.
  6. Minnesota enacted legislation under the Minnesota Statutes Chapter 116: Pollution Control Agency, 116.931 Wheel Weights and Balancing Products. Effective January 1, 2016, this legislation will ban the sale, distribution and use of wheel weights containing lead or mercury to balance vehicle wheels and tires in Minnesota.
  7. In New Jersey, a bill was introduced in 2015 to phase-out the use, sale and offer for sale of wheel weights to balance a motor vehicle wheel or tire if the weight or other product contains lead or mercury that was intentionally added during the manufacture of the product. The bill was approved on second reading December 2016. The third reading will be in 2017.
  8. In New York, since 2011, the Environmental Conservation Law 37-0113, prohibits the use of weights or other balancing products that contains more than 0.1 % lead by weight for replacing or balancing a tire on a motor vehicle. Since 2012, it is prohibited to sell or offer for sale wheel weights or motor vehicles that are equipped with weights or other products for balancing motor vehicle wheels containing more than 0.1 % lead by weight.
  9. South Carolina introduced a bill in 2016 to ban the use, sale and offer for sale of balancing products that contain lead or mercury on motor vehicles or aircrafts. The bill stipulates that no person shall shred or crush, or market for shredding or crushing, any motor vehicle, aircraft, watercraft, or railroad or industrial equipment without first inspecting for lead or mercury. The bill also requires used wheel weights to be properly recycled or otherwise managed. The bill passed its first step May 2016 and is now with the Committee of Medical Affairs for review.  
  10. Vermont, enacted legislation under the Title 09: Commerce and Trade, Chapter 063: Consumer Protection, Subchapter 001C: Lead In Consumer Products, banning the use of wheel weights containing lead in vehicles owned by the state or vehicles operated by the state under a long-term lease since 2010. Since 2011, no person shall sell or offer for sale in or into the state of Vermont a new motor vehicle with wheel weights containing lead.
  11. Washington State enacted legislation under Chapter 70.270 RCW, requiring that a person who replaces or balances wheels on or after Jan. 1, 2011, must replace the weights with weights of alternative materials.
  12. Wisconsin introduced a bill in 2011 to prohibit the use of lead wheel weights in connection with the installation or balancing of motor vehicle tires, but this bill never became law.
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