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U.S. EPA honors Postal Service for pledging to remove nearly 8,000 pounds of lead from its vehicle fleet / First USPS region in nation to voluntarily replace lead wheel weights from its flee

Release Date: 11/19/2008
Contact Information: Wendy Chavez, U.S. EPA, 415/947-4248, chavez.wendy@epa.gov James Wigdel, USPS, 415/550-5718, jwigdel@usps.gov

(San Francisco, Calif. -- 11/19/08) As part of the National Partnership for Environmental Priorities program, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today honored the Pacific Area of the U.S. Postal Service for its commitment to voluntarily replace all lead wheel weights for approximately 31,000 fleet delivery vehicles -- removing more than 8,000 pounds of lead from its workplace operations and potential deposition into the environment.

The USPS’s 34 vehicle maintenance facilities in California and Hawaii will perform about 70,000 tire balancing services annually eliminating nearly 8,000 pounds of lead in the workplace and approximately 500 pounds in the environment from wheel weights that fall off onto roadways.

“The U.S. Postal Service will not only remove thousands of pounds of hazardous lead from our environment, but recently also helped the EPA launch its National Lead Free Wheel Weight Initiative to encourage the transition away from using lead for wheel weights,” said Jeff Scott, the EPA’s Waste Division director for the Pacific Southwest region. “The U.S. Postal Service Pacific Area’s leadership serves as a model both for public and private fleets to get the lead out.”

“Given the size and scope of Postal Service operations, we can reduce our environmental footprint by pursuing the development of sustainable business practices that protect the environment, maintain a safe workplace, and are fiscally prudent,” said Patrick Langsjoen, Pacific Area environmental specialist for the U.S. Postal Service. “Participating in the lead free wheel weight initiative fits well with our larger corporate sustainability strategy.”

The EPA’s lead-free wheel weight initiative engages partners in the manufacture, distribution, sale and use of wheel weights to participate in a voluntary effort to accelerate the transition to steel weights. Lead can enter the environment and create potential human exposures by weights falling off tires and being washed into storm sewers or waterways.

Quick Facts:
Wheel weights are clipped to the rims of every automobile wheel in the United States in order to balance tires.
Lead weights will be phased out in California by the end of 2009 under a court settlement between Oakland-based Center for Environmental Health against Chrysler and the three largest makers of lead wheel weights for the U.S. market: Plombco Inc. of Canada, Perfect Equipment Inc. and Hennessey Industries.
There are 200 million autos and light trucks on the nation's roadways, with 16 million new autos produced annually in the United States.
An average of 4.5 ounces of lead is clipped to the wheel rims of every automobile in the United States.
Approximately 50 million pounds of lead is used annually to produce tire weights worldwide in autos and light trucks.
It is estimated that 1.6 million pounds are lost in the United States when wheel weights fall off during normal driving conditions (e.g., hitting a pot hole).
It is estimated that half a million pounds of lead each year is released into the environment in California from wheel weights falling off vehicles.
Local service stations may have steel weights available, and consumers can request them in lieu of lead weights.

The National Partnership for Environmental Priorities encourages public and private organizations to form partnerships with the EPA to reduce the use or release of toxic. Lead is a chemical of concern for the EPA because it bio-accumulates in the food chain, damages ecosystems and can cause brain damage in humans, especially children.

The EPAs goal is to partner with industries, municipalities and federal facilities to reduce the use or release of 4 million pounds of priority chemicals by 2011. The EPA also encourages all consumers to ask their tire vendors to provide lead-free wheel weights.

For more information on the EPAs National Partnership for Environmental Priorities Program, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/epaoswer/hazwaste/minimize/partnership.htmn
For more information about USPS, please visit: http://www.usps.com


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