OLYMPIA, WA - The Washington State Department of Ecology recently endorsed steel wheel weights over other lead alternatives, according to Modern Tire Dealer.

"Washington state is banning the use of lead wheel weights for most vehicles in 2011 because of the toxic hazard they pose for people, the environment and aquatic life," said Carol Kraege with the Washington Department of Ecology, MTD reported. "Lead wheel weights must be replaced with 'environmentally preferred' weights, and Ecology recommends coated steel wheel weights as replacements."

Health and environmental concerns about lead have motivated Washington and four other states - California, Maine, Minnesota, and Vermont - to pass legislation banning lead wheel weights. Maryland and Wisconsin have also proposed similar legislation, reported MTD.

With the Department of Ecology's endorsement of steel as the best alternative, Washington joins Maine as the second state to put its official support behind steel. The state of Maine has declared it will not promote the use of zinc wheel weights, another alternative to lead, due to concerns about toxicity to wildlife.

In April, the Associated Press reported Washington was the first state in the nation to pass a law to phase out the use of copper in brake pads.

Other government fleets that have worked to eliminate lead from operations include the U.S. Postal Service, State of Nevada Motor Pool Division, City of Oxnard, City of Reno, and Cobb County Fleet Management.