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Newspapers got the lead out years ago

Anyone notice that beginning in 2011 it will not be legal for those selling new tires to put lead weights on to balance them?

Lead is used to keep the tire from vibrating unnecessarily while it is spinning.

According to studies, if only 5 percent of those weights work loose or fall off, thenit leaves 20 tons of lead lying around on the roadways of the country. Thisthen eventually breaks down and mixes with the environment.

Newspapers got the lead out years ago. What did lead have to dowith newspapers?

It's always been a very soft, malleable metal. It could be madeinto a shape pretty readily. All the type, the individual letters that madeup every single story used to be set in lead. There were machines at everypaper making letters every day. These were the Linotype units. They had aplace to melt a stick, also called a "pig" of lead and be "punched" or "set"into desired letters.

When all the stories were set and the pictures added to each page,any trimming of this "galley" of type could be done by a table saw. All ofthis then gave the user a "template" to make a printing plate.

These plates, mounted on the press, were compressed between rollersand paper. They had to be strong but also had to be made of something thatcould be shaped to fit the cylinders on the press. If you're thinking ametal that could fit that bill might be lead, yes, that is what was used.The entire printing plate was poured in lead.

If, in the pouring process there was excess lead where it didn'tneed to be, it needed to be removed. The plates were set in cabinets wherethere was a high-speed router. Through spinning and whirling, the unwantedwas scrapped away.

At the end of the day, newspapers were largely distributed in theafternoon at that time; the lead plate was hauled off the press and dumpedin the smelter pot to be boiled down into tomorrow's pigs to be reused.

Suffice it to say modern newspapers do not have lead fumes boilingout of pots. There are no lead chips spitting off either routers or tablesaws. Shavings, chips and chunks of lead discards are not being swept upwith the trash, ultimately to wind up in some landfill where they willleach into the surrounding soil.

This industry got the lead out a long time ago.

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