Supply House Times

Plumbing industry leaders form consortium to 'Get the Lead Out'

October 1, 2012

A consortium of plumbing manufacturers and industry trade associations met in Chicago Aug. 30, 2012, at the invitation of the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association Educational Foundation, to develop strategies to alert and prepare industry constituents for upcoming changes in the allowable level of lead in plumbing products. The federal "Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act" was signed into law by President Barack Obama on Jan. 4, 2011. The bill becomes effective Jan. 4, 2014.

The law reduces the permissible levels of lead in wetted surfaces of faucets, pipes and pipe fittings to 0.25% from the previous national standard of 8% maximum. While many manufacturers in the plumbing industry were already meeting these reduced standards, the plumbing industry supports the uniform national standard to harmonize requirements, avoiding a patchwork of requirements across the country.

The federal law was spearheaded by Plumbing Manufacturers International, based upon the template of a California law generally referred to as AB 1953. Prior to the federal legislation, Vermont, Maryland and Louisiana have individually adopted the lower-lead mandate.

The mission of the consortium is to provide widespread education about the manufacture, distribution and installation of lead-free plumbing products. (Lead-free refers to the wetted surface of pipe, fittings and fixtures in potable water systems that have a weighted average lead content <=0.25% per the Safe Drinking Water Act (Sec. 1417) amended 1-4-2011 and other equivalent state regulations.)

Contractors/apprentices, distributors, plumbing engineers and code officials are the targets of the comprehensive communications plan. The multipronged outreach strategy includes industry trade press events, a website, training programs, support materials including a “Frequently Asked Questions” guide and educational events at various industry conventions. In addition to compliance guidelines, the content of the messaging will also focus on business and legal implications of the new legislation. The launch date is planned for January 2013.

The concept for the communications outreach and training consortium evolved from the PHCC Educational Foundation board of directors. In addition to PHCC, representing the industry at the kick-off meeting was the American Society of Plumbing Engineers, the American Supply Association, the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials, Plumbing Manufacturers International, Kohler Co., NIBCO, Reliance Worldwide, T & S Brass and Bronze Works, Viega and Watts Water Technologies.

“It is rewarding to see such an unprecedented level of industry collaboration on this national initiative,” said Cindy Sheridan, chief operating officer, PHCC Educational Foundation, and facilitator of the meeting. “Information and understanding are critical to compliance. We are delighted that so many key volunteers accepted our invitation for this important gathering.”

Source: PHCC Educational Foundation