No-Lead Compliant Plumbing Products Q & A
Overview of No-Lead Compliant Plumbing Products As Required By CA Health & Safety Code 116875 (previously AB1953) and Other Laws
Q: What are AB1953 and/or CA Health & Safety Code 116875?
A: AB1953 was a state Bill in California that served to amend California’s Health and Safety Code 116875 to limit the lead content in plumbing products, specifically “any pipe, pipe or plumbing fitting, or fixture intended to convey or dispense water for human consumption through drinking or cooking”, to a weighted average of 0.25% of the wetted surface area of the product. The Bill was passed into law on September 30, 2006, with an effective date of January 1, 2010, thereby amending California Health and Safety Code 116875, but many individuals still (incorrectly) reference this requirement as AB1953.
Q: What is the relationship between AB1953 and the California Health and Safety Code 116875?
A: AB1953 was a bill to amend the California Health & Safety Code.
Q: Do products have to be certified to the new lead requirements?
A: YES; NSF 372 provides guidance on test methods suitable for evaluating 0.25% weighted average lead content that can be used to certify products to the low lead laws & California Health and Safety code. However, other test methods can be used as long as equivalence is established.
Q: How/where can I find out if a product is 3rd party certified to meet CA Health & Safety Code 116875 (AB1953)?
A: See the attached sheet which provides 3rd party certifier listing, contact information and product marking information with respect to NSF 372 certification.
Q: If a product is NSF-61, Annex G certified, does that mean that it meets CA Health & Safety Code 116875 (AB1953)?
A: NO; to meet the California Health & Safety Code, a product must be evaluated and certified to NSF 372 for 0.25% lead (Pb) weighted average.
Q: Does the law apply to fixture fittings in public restrooms, specifically to electronic or metered faucets with aerators or spray outlets that deliver tempered water to lavatories and wash fountains intended for hand washing only?
A: NO; the legislation states that CA Health & Safety Code 116875 (AB1953) applies to products that ”convey or dispense water for human consumption through drinking or cooking”. The US EPA and the California Department of Public Health (as defined by acceptance of NSF 61) do not consider public lavatory faucets and wash fountains to be sources of water for human consumption.
Q: Is an AB1953 approved faucet made entirely of materials with less than 0.25% lead content?
A: NO; there may be parts with more than 0.25% lead that are compensated by other parts with less or no lead. The requirement is that the weighted average content of all internal wetted surface components not exceed 0.25% lead content.
Q: Is a faucet compliant with low-lead laws equal to Annex G of NSF61?
A: NOT EXACTLY; one must use a test method that is the same as that used by the CA Department of Toxic Substances Control, which NSF 372 does.
Q: Are NSF-61, Annex G and NSF 372 the same?
A: ESSENTIALLY, YES; however, Annex G requires that a product comply with the applicable sections of NSF-61, while NSF-372 does not. Click here for more information.
Q: Does lead-free mean no lead?
A: NO; the definition of lead-free by CA Health & Safety Code 116875 (AB1953) is a maximum of 0.25% weighted average lead content of the wetted surface area of parts in contact with drinking water.
Q: What is the relationship between NSF 61, NSF 372 and CA Health & Safety Code 116875 (AB1953)/DTSC compliance?
A: California Health & Safety Code does not reference NSF 61. However, NSF 61 provides a means of evaluating water distribution system and plumbing system materials to ensure that they do not contaminate water used for drinking and cooking above concentration levels that would be adverse to human health. NSF 61 makes this evaluation against a broad list of US EPA Primary Drinking Water contaminants and also other unregulated contaminants included in the standard. CA Health & Safety Code 116875 (AB1953) and NSF 372 set prescriptive maximum allowable levels of lead content in water distribution and plumbing materials.
Q: What are the similarities/differences between the regulations and standards with respect to plumbing products included or excluded from coverage – in other words, what products are not considered sources of water for human consumption?
A: Pipes, pipe or plumbing fittings or fixtures used in manufacturing, in industrial processing, for irrigation purposes, and for any other uses where the water is not intended for human consumption through drinking or cooking are not subject to requirements of CA Health & Safety Code 116875 (AB1953) . Per Assemblywoman Wilma Chan’s (author of AB1953) letter dated August 23, 2006, the intent of AB1953 was not to include, “fire hydrants; fittings and valves for wastewater distribution systems, decorative fountains, marine applications, air and vacuum appliances, bathtubs, showers, Roman tubs, sanitary sewer drains, irrigation sprinklers, toilets, urinals, bidets, laboratory uses, service sinks, whirlpools, spa therapy pools, and clothes washers; hose bibbs, fittings, tees and splitters; flush valves; solenoid valves; pre-rinse assemblies that do not include an auxiliary spout or other outlet; bathtub faucets; showerheads and showerhead adapters.” This list of exclusions is very similar to that of NSF 61, which has been approved by the Joint Committee overseeing that Standard, consisting of representatives of the US EPA and State Drinking Water agency heads from several states.
Q: What is the issue surrounding central distributors who may bring non-compliant products in to California for sale outside the state?
A: Our understanding is that it is permissible for distributors to bring non-compliant products into the State of California, so long as they do not sell them further down the distribution chain within the State of California.
Q: What is the status and relationship between CA Health & Safety Code 116875 (AB1953) and the 2014 implementation of Federal Safe Drinking Water Amendments addressing this issue? What about other states and timing?
A: The Safe Drinking Water Amendments passed by the US Congress in 2010 become effective in 2014, and are the same requirements (excluding the formal requirement for 3rd party certification) as covered under CA Health & Safety Code 116875 (AB1953) . Enforcement occurs as a result of the plumbing codes separately requiring compliance with NSF 372. Vermont has similar lead requirements in place already (effective January 1, 2010) and Maryland will begin enforcing the same requirement in 2012. In Louisiana, current legislation has passed the House and is moving through its Senate with the same weighted average content limits, to be effective in 2013 if the legislation is passed.
Q: Does the law apply to in-line tempering devices that reduce the temperature of the hot water distribution system?
A: Using the same rational that hot water is not intended for human consumption, such a device, including the hot water boiler/heater, would be exempt under the intent of the law/regulation.
Q: How will DTSC’s (California Department of Toxic Substances Control) testing and evaluation program apply to plumbing fittings or fixture repair and replacement parts?
A: Per information from the DTSC web site: “The new lead content requirements apply broadly to all pipes, pipe fittings or plumbing fittings, or fixtures intended to convey or dispense water for human consumption. (Health and Safety Code, § 116875, subdivisions (a) and (b).) The statute does not contain an explicit exemption for replacement parts from the new lead content requirements. Nor has DTSC found any supporting information in the legislation or related materials supporting the notion that the California Legislature intended to exempt such a broad category of materials as ’replacement parts.’ To do so would mean that for years or even decades after the law’s adoption, no meaningful reduction in lead exposure from drinking water would occur. Moreover, as plumbing fixtures sit on retail shelves available for purchase in California, there is no distinction between ’new‘ and ’replacement’ parts. They are the same.
If DTSC were to test a plumbing fitting or fixture replacement part, obtained from a readily accessible retail or wholesale location, DTSC would apply the lead content formula to the specific part to determine whether the part met the 0.25% weighted average lead content standard. DTSC recognizes that applying the statutory lead content formula to individual replacement parts may result in replacement parts with a different lead content than the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts. However, this law was designed to gradually phase-out plumbing parts containing lead as part of the normal replacement cycle for pipes, pipe fittings or plumbing fittings, or fixtures. To interpret the lead content formula to allow the use of lead containing replacement parts with a weighted average lead content above the statutory level would be contrary to that purpose.”
Q: Is a label stating compliance with 116875 necessary to be on the product packaging?
A: Our understanding is that it is not required. While the PMI-sponsored provision in subdivision [g] of Health and Safety Code Section 116875 requires certification of compliance by an independent American National Standards Institute (ANSI) accredited third party; the statute does not require labeling. The decision was made not to pursue the requirement because third party certifiers and companies may have their own proprietary markings.