Bruce Jameson of Lee Brass clarifies the new low lead legislation and deadlines for compliance.

I am pleased to see thatSupply House Timesis keeping everyone up-to-date with the announcements concerning passage of Senate Bill S.3874, which reduces the lead content of plumbing products from 8% to 0.25%.

The law will take effect over a 36-month transition period. However, most municipalities and housing codes require certification to the NSF-61 Standard, latest revision. This standard is much different than the Senate bill signed by President Obama on January 4, 2011.

Several recent developments regarding lead in plumbing products have resulted in some confusion. Senate Bill S.3874 only addresses the lead content, reflecting the California AB1953 requirement of 0.25% lead by weighted content. The NSF-61 standard requires that the plumbing products also meet a lead leachate parameter. The new NSF-61F standard requires that these products meet a lead leachate of 5 parts per billion, reduced from the current 15 parts per billion, effective July 2012. The transitioning period of purging leaded plumbing products from inventory and replacing with lead-free products is between now and July 2012.

Below is information published January 27, 2011 by NSF, which helps clarify the issue:

Re: Evaluation of Lead from Drinking Water Products – Revision to standards and certification requirements

As you may have heard, there have been several recent developments regarding lead in plumbing products. In regards to NSF standards, NSF/ANSI Standard 61 has been revised, and the new NSF/ANSI Standard 372 has been introduced.

More details follow on each item below. Please review this information closely, as it contains multiple notices relative to the evaluation of lead in NSF-certified products, and provides details on the various compliance dates.   

NSF/ANSI 61: Compliance date July 1, 2012

The chemical extraction requirements for lead are due to be lowered on July 1, 2012.  Most of the lead criteria are being reduced by an average factor of three. The new criteria are located in Annex F of the standard, and the July 1, 2012 compliance date represents the end of a 5-year implementation period established when the new requirements were first adopted. These changes affect all products certified to Standard 61, which are required to meet these new requirements on or before the July 1, 2012 date.

NSF/ANSI 61, Annex G: Compliance date July 1, 2012

The requirements of this annex have been updated to require compliance with a new standard, NSF/ANSI 372: Drinking Water System Components – Lead Content.  NSF/ANSI 372 contains the same procedures used to calculate the weighted average lead content of products that were previously contained in earlier versions of Annex G, however NSF/ANSI 372 contains the addition of minimum lead content verification testing.  NSF has been performing this testing on samples collected as part of our certified product monitoring throughout 2010, and will continue this moving forward. 

Product certified for lead content only:  Compliance date July 1, 2012

The evaluation of products to this “lead content only” program followed the procedures in NSF/ANSI Standard 61, Annex G, with the exception of the extraction requirements of that standard.  With the adoption of NSF/ANSI 372, the evaluation of products for this listing will now be performed to that standard.  As described in the Annex G section above, lead content verification testing is routinely performed on NSF-certified products. 

NSF/ANSI 61: Compliance data January 4, 2014

On January 4th this year, President Obama signed legislation revising the definition for “lead free” within the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) as it pertains to “pipe, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings, and fixtures.”  The changes are due to go into effect 36 months after the date enacted, which is January 4, 2014.  The revisions to the SDWA require that these products will need to meet a weighted average lead content of 0.25%.  Evaluations to NSF/ANSI 61, Annex G and NSF/ANSI 372 provide evidence of compliance to the requirement. As Section 3.5 of NSF/ANSI 61 requires that products comply with the lead-free requirements of the SDWA, all NSF/ANSI 61 products falling into the scope of the legislation will be required to comply with the new 0.25% lead content. The NSF compliance date has been set to the U.S. federal compliance date.  

Bruce L. Jameson is president and chief executive officer of Lee Brass, which offers 745 line items of LEE FREE threaded brass and cast solder products that are already compliant with the NSF-61F requirement of less than 5 parts per billion lead leachate.