Lead is used in many widely known applications, such as automobile batteries and radiation shielding. Another lesser known, but long-term, use of lead is in automotive vehicle wheel weights. Lead weights have been used to balance
wheels since the 1930s because of its high specific gravity, low relative cost, and its malleability. Out-of-balance tires tend to 'cup' and vibrate and as a result cause excessive wear on tires and vehicle suspension components and result in compromised handling, especially at high speeds. The mass, number, and style of weights needed to balance a wheel depend on the tire's size and weight and on the type and condition of the wheels (rims) on the vehicle. This study addresses an accounting of the stocks and flows of lead contained in lead wheel weights from their manufacture, through use, dissipation, and recycling, and environmental issues associated with the use of lead.
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USGS Numbered Series
Stocks and flows of lead-based wheel weights in the United States