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Safe Auto Shops of Watertown

Project Details

Year: 2007
Location: Watertown
Project Manager: Gerard Cody, Chief Environmental Officer
Partners: Watertown Citgo, Automotive Performance, Massachusetts Health Officers Association


The Town of Watertown Health Department built on resources developed by the Boston Public Health Commission to provide education and training for auto shop owners in Watertown. The project also worked with selected auto shops to pilot test safer alternatives to lead wheel weights and solvent-based brake cleaners. U.S. auto manufacturers are in the process of converting to steel weights, but local auto shops still rely largely on lead wheel weights, which are hazardous for the environment and for workers. Lead-free weights such as tin, zinc and steel were provided to the auto shops to test performance and encourage replacement.


Participating auto shops were provided certificates for each autoworker that participated in a one-hour presentation on safety and understanding chemical exposure in auto shops. There were a total of eight certificates distributed to the two participating auto shops in Watertown. The two participating auto shops were provided a banner to display to inform their customers they were using environmentally friendly products and participating in the Watertown Safe Shops program.

The two participating auto shops were given two types of lead-free wheel weights for trial, clip-on and adhesive. These clip-on lead-free wheel weights were cost effective compared to the lead wheel weights. The clip-on lead-free wheel weights fell off the cars easier then the lead wheel weights. The adhesive wheel weight was too costly for the shops to continue to use after the program. One of the participating auto shops substituted an aqueous based brake cleaner in lieu of their existing solvent based cleaner.

This page updated Tuesday November 29 2016