TRENTON, N.J.The New Jersey legislature is considering new legislation that would make it the eighth state in the U.S. to ban lead and mercury wheel balance weights.
New Jersey Assembly Bill No. 4201 was introduced Feb. 23 by Assemblyman Jack M. Ciattarelli, R-16th District, and referred to the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee.
A4201 would make it illegal to sell or install any wheel weights containing lead or mercury in New Jersey, or on any new motor vehicle installed with lead or mercury wheel weights. It would establish a fine of up to $2,500 for each violation of the law.
The bill's text cites evidence from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that lead and mercury are highly toxic. It also quotes a study that said as much as 12 tons of lead and mercury wheel weights fall onto New Jersey roads annually.
Often, these weights fall off cars and are either washed into storm sewers and end up in waterways, or are gathered during street cleaning and placed in landfills or incinerators, the bill said. Because the weights are susceptible to atmospheric erosion, they can release lead and mercury into the environment.
The legislation would allow a 180-day grace period from the date of enactment for New Jersey businesses to comply with the new law. This is much less than allowed by the most recent state ban on lead weights, in Minnesota. That state's law was enacted in May 2014, but only goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2016.
As more and more states transition away from lead wheel weights, it is important for businesses in every state to ensure that they are partnered with reputable and experienced suppliers that can help them through a transition if or when it happens in their state, said Gregory Parker, marketing manager for Wegmann Automotive U.S.A. Inc., in a press release about the New Jersey proposal.
Wegmann is owner of the Perfect Equipment and Hofmann Power Weight wheel weight brands.
When Minnesota enacted its wheel weight bill, Wegmann said at the time, approximately 26 percent of all registered vehicles in the U.S. were brought under a lead wheel weight ban.
California, Maine, New York, Vermont, Washington and Illinois also have banned lead wheel weights.