SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has honored Contra Costa County, Calif., for its commitment to voluntarily replace all lead wheel weights from thousands of tires, resulting in a reduction of more than 2,000 lbs. of lead from the environment by 2012, according to the EPA.

Contra Costa is the first county fleet in the Pacific Southwest to enroll in this program.

"Contra Costa County will prevent thousands of pounds of hazardous lead from entering our environment," said Tom Huetteman, the EPA Waste Division associate director for the Pacific Southwest region. "The County's environmental leadership serves as a model both for public and private fleets to get the lead out." 

Within one year, the Contra Costa County vehicle maintenance facility in Martinez performs nearly 1,800 tire balancing services. By replacing lead weights with coated steel weights, the County will effectively reduce the amount of lead by 2,000 lbs. by 2012. This project serves as a model for other county or municipal fleets.

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.

An EPA goal is to partner with industries, municipalities, and federal facilities to reduce the use or release of 4 million lbs. 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 EPA's National Partnership for Environmental Priorities Program, please visit:

To watch EPA's video highlighting the issue of lead, go to