Consultation document on risk management options for lead wheel weights: chapter 1

1.1. Purpose and Scope of the Consultation

The intent of this consultation paper is to encourage discussion and to give interested and affected parties an opportunity to provide input into the selection and development of a risk management instrument for lead wheel weights in Canada.

Specific objectives include:

  • Inform stakeholders of risk management options;
  • Provide an opportunity for stakeholders to contribute to the development of the risk management instrument;
  • Discuss feasibility and timelines for instrument implementation;
  • Assess potential economic and technical barriers for the sector; and
  • Address stakeholder questions or concerns.

1.2. Consultations with Stakeholders

The Government of Canada is committed to providing interested and affected parties with the opportunity to take part in consultations at all stages of the instrument development. All interested parties may comment on this document in writing, by mail, fax or email to the coordinates provided in Section 9 of this document.

Stakeholders may include non-governmental organizations, provincial, territorial and federal government departments, as well as associations, companies and facilities interested or involved in the following activities:

  • Wheel weight manufacturing, importation and distribution;
  • Automotive repair;
  • Tire dealers;
  • End-of-life recovery (e.g., scrap yards and recyclers); and
  • Secondary smelting.

1.3. Issue

Lead has been historically 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 are eventually abraded into lead dust, which is dispersed into the environment. This dust can build up in soil, enter waterways through runoff, or be inhaled. It is estimated that approximately 114 tonnes of lead wheel weights annually were directly released into the environment after falling from cars (Environment Canada, 2013).

In addition, there is a high level of uncertainty associated with approximately 644 tonnes of unaccounted lead wheel weights that were removed by dismantlers and aftermarket facilities (e.g., tire dealers and auto repairs) in 2011, but were not typically sent to secondary smelters for recycling. Significant amounts of these wheel weights are expected to have been given to hobbyists to make fishing weights, counter-weights, etc. These activities commonly contribute to indoor air exposure. Also, discarded fishing sinkers and jigs made from lead wheel weights may result in the ingestion of lead by wildlife such as waterfowl and other birds (Environment Canada, 2003).

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