Ottawa – Every year, it is estimated that 110 tonnes of lead from wheel weights fall off tire rims and are released into the environment along Canadian roads. The Government of Canada recognizes that lead is a highly toxic metal and is taking action to prohibit the manufacture and import of lead wheel weights. The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, has announced the publication of the Prohibition of the Manufacture and Importation of Wheel Weights Containing Lead Regulations.
Lead is an odourless and flexible metal that enters the environment mainly due to human activities, including through the use and disposal of commercial products, such as sinkers and jigs for fishing, and wheel weights. The metal is known to be harmful to the nervous and reproductive systems of both humans and wildlife, and can affect the kidneys and cardiovascular system in humans. The World Health Organization has concluded that there is no safe threshold for lead exposure. Although blood lead levels have declined by over 70 percent in Canada since the 1970s, lead is still widely detected in the Canadian population. Reducing exposure helps manage the risk.
Despite its toxicity, lead remains the most common material used when manufacturing wheel weights, due to its resistance to chemical corrosion. Wheel weights are installed on the wheels of vehicles to even out the weight distribution around the rim and stabilize vehicles at high speeds. Lead wheel weights routinely fall off and can turn into dust over time. This dust is harmful as it can build up in soil, enter waterways through runoffs, or be inhaled.
These Regulations would prohibit the manufacture and import of wheel weights containing more than 0.1 percent of lead in weight in Canada. Manufacturers and importers will have until February 3, 2024, to transition to safer alternatives, such as steel. Through these Regulations, Canada is delivering on its commitment to protect Canadians and the environment from harmful chemicals and pollutants.
“We continue our work in protecting the health of Canadians and the environment from harmful substances. Our roadways and waterways cannot be accidental dumping grounds for commercial products containing lead. There are safe and affordable alternatives to lead wheel weights, and it’s time to make the switch.” – The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
“Keeping harmful toxins out of our environment ensures the well-being and safety of Canadians and our wildlife. Over the past 30 years, we have significantly reduced exposure to lead. However, more work needs to be done. Through these regulations, we are taking a step to further protect our environment and in turn, help ensure our communities and wildlife remain healthy.” – The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health
- The Regulations will come into force on February 3, 2024. The sale and installation of the remaining stock of lead wheel weights already in Canada will be allowed after the Regulations come into force.
- Reducing releases of lead into our environment will have health benefits, including lower blood lead levels, which would reduce the risk of developmental neurotoxicity, and of the neurodegenerative, cardiovascular, renal, and reproductive effects of lead.