New Lead-Free Regulations
In 1974, the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) was passed by Congress to protect public health by regulating the nation's public drinking water supply. Amended in 1986 and 1996, this Act required lead content of 8% or less for plumbing fixtures, valves, fittings and pipe.
Recently, states have begun to pass laws that lower this requirement. In the California and Vermont, as of January 1, 2010, lead has been outlawed in all pipes, valves and fittings used in potable water systems. Because trace elements can often be detected, lead content of less than 0.25% is defined as lead free by California Assembly Bill 1953. A similar standard was adopted by Vermont.
At Milwaukee Valve, we believe this is the beginning of a dramatic change in the national plumbing code, and more states will be adopting this standard in the future.
Explanation of California AB 1953
- California AB 1953 revises the meaning of "lead free" from 8% lead for pipes or pipe fittings, and 4% lead for plumbing fittings and fixtures to 0.25% lead content within each component that comes into contact with the wetted surfaces of pipes and pipe fittings, plumbing fittings and fixtures, effective January 1, 2010.
- California AB 1953 prohibits the use of specified materials that are not lead free in the installation or repair of any public water system or any plumbing in a facility providing water for human consumption, except when necessary for the repair of leaded joints of cast iron pipes.
- California AB 1953 prohibits introducing into commerce, for use in California, any specified material intended to convey or dispense water for human consumption that is not lead free.
- California AB 1953 exempts plumbing fixtures and related devices that are used in manufacturing, industrial processing, for irrigation purposes, and any other uses where the water is not intended for human consumption.
- California AB 1953 prohibits persons engaged in the business of selling plumbing supplies, except manufacturers, from selling solder or flux that is not lead free, unless accompanied by a prominent label stating that it is illegal to use the solder or flux in the installation or repair of any plumbing providing water for human consumption.
- California AB 1953 defines "lead free" as materials containing not more than 0.2% lead when used with respect to solder and flux and not more than a weighted average of 0.25% when used with respect to the wetted surfaces of pipes and pipe fittings, plumbing fittings, and fixtures, providing a specified definition and formula for determining "weighted average".
- California AB 1953 provides declaratory language regarding state mandates and the procedure for local agencies to receive reimbursement.
Explanation of Vermont S.152
Vermont passed bill S.152 which regulates the amount of lead in consumer products, similar to the California AB 1953. Vermont bill S.152 also prohibits the sale of plumbing fixtures whose wetted surfaces contain more than a weighted average of 0.25% lead. Vermont S.152 also takes effect January 1, 2010. At this point, the major difference between Vermont S.152 and California AB 1953 is that Vermont does not require third party certification that products are achieving the standards in question.