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Last Updated: 04/16/2013


Public Law 111-380 amended Section 1417 of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) for the purpose of reducing lead in drinking water. The short title of the legislation is the “Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act”. The requirements of this new law take effect 36 months after the date of enactment or January 4, 2014.

Currently, California, Maryland, Louisiana, and Vermont have Lead Free Acts that limit the amount of lead in products that provide drinking water for human consumption, But by January 4th, 2014 all states are required to follow the national legislation titled "Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act".

The new legislation reduces the permissible levels of lead in the wetted surfaces of pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings and fixtures to a weighted average of not more than 0.25%.
Products that meet this standard are referred to in the law as “Lead Free.”
You can identify products on our website that meet low lead requirments by looking for the following icon:
Low Lead Icon
What products are affected by Lead Free Act?

Any pipe, any pipe or plumbing fitting or fixture, any solder, or any flux, in the installation or repair of any public water system or any plumbing in a residential or nonresidential facility providing water for human consumption.

You should be aware that under the SDWA, the definition of a public water system is not simply the distribution system but also includes the treatment, the storage, and any collection systems. The lead free requirement covers all components and materials used in the waterworks from source to tap.

It is very important to realize that this new requirement applies to the installation and the repair of any system that serves water for drinking. After January 4, 2014 you can no longer utilize any component that does not meet the new lead free definition – this includes components that you may have in current inventory.

Devices and materials currently in service which meet the previous definition of lead free do not have to be removed or replaced. They may continue to be used, until they need to be replaced or repaired.

Replacement devices will clearly need to meet the new lead free definition.

There is currently a question about the use of new components that meet the new lead free definition to repair old appurtenances or devices, if the repaired device may still have components that do not meet the new definition, or if the entire device must now meet the new definition. EPA has not yet provided guidance on this issue.

What products are not affected by Lead Free Laws?

The Act has two specific exemptions from the lead free requirement;

  • The first exemption is for pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings, and fixtures, including backflow preventers, that are used exclusively for non-potable services such as manufacturing, industrial processing, irrigation, outdoor watering, or other uses where the water is not anticipated to be used for human consumption.
  • The second exemption is for specific components or products and does not have the language that it is used exclusively for non-potable services. Exempted are shower valves, tub fillers, service saddles, and water distribution main gate valves that are 2 inches in diameter or greater.
  • Note that the above are exempted from meeting any definition of lead free. So any item covered by these exemptions can contain any amount of lead.
When did the Lead Free Act go into effect?
January 1, 2010 - California and Vermont
January 1, 2012 - Maryland
January 1, 2013 - Louisiana
January 4, 2014 - In addition to the 50 U.S. states, the federal Lead Free law will also apply to Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. It does not apply in any country in South America.
Why is meeting this new standard important?
Currently, products that do not meet the criteria as outlined by their governing Lead Free Law cannot be sold in the State of California, Maryland, Louisiana, or Vermont.
On January 4th, 2014 based on the wording in the law, it will be illegal to sell or install products for use in potable water applications that are not Lead Free. This will dramatically reduce the available market for products made with traditional materials.
Does the new Legislation change NSF/ANSI Standard 61?

The NSF has amended its standard (NSF/ANSI Standard 61) to include an Annex G (took effect in 2010) that addresses the weighted lead content of products. If products are specified to bear the NSF 61-G Certification Mark, they will comply with the new lead free requirements of PL 111-380. Beginning January 4, 2014, all NSF 61 products will be required to comply with the lead free requirements of the law.

In addition to the lead free content requirements, NSF/ANSI 61 sets requirements for the amount of lead that can leach from products in contact with drinking water. NSF updated that standard with new stricter requirements that took effect on July 1, 2012.

Effective Date: January 1, 2013  

On June 29, 2011, Gov. Bobby Jindal signed Louisiana House Bill 471 and enacted Act Number 362. This Act takes effect January 1, 2013, and prohibits the use, installation, repair, introduction into commerce, or sale of pipes, fittings, fixtures, solder, or flux that are not “lead free” when used for conveying water for human consumption.

Under Act 362, the lead content of pipes, fittings and fixtures will be reduced from not more than 8.0 percent lead to not more than a weighted average of 0.25 percent lead when used with
respect to the wetted surfaces of pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings and fixtures.

Effective Date: January 1, 2012 
HB 372 is the House Bill that was adopted by the General Assembly and signed into law by Governor O’Malley on May 4, 2010 and went into effect January 1, 2012. The law prohibits the sale and use of specified plumbing materials containing more than a specified amount of lead from being used in the installation or repair of plumbing intended to dispense water for human consumption.

Effective Date: January 1, 2010  
California has passed new legislation reducing the amount of lead contained in pipes, fittings and fixtures used to convey water for drinking or cooking. These new laws went into effect Jan 1, 2010.
SB1334, SB1395 and AB1953 became the foundation of what is now the updated California Health and Safety Code (Section 116875-116880) in regards to lead content in water for drinking and cooking.



Effective Date: January 1, 2010  
Vermont stands as one of the pioneers of the Lead Free plumbing movement, with its Senate Bill S.0152 being signed some three months before California's similar lead legislation.
S. 152 is a bill regulating lead in consumer products similar to the California Lead Plumbing Law which also prohibits the sale of plumbing fixtures whose wetted surfaces contain more than a weighted average of 0.25% lead, effective January 1, 2010. The term "plumbing fixtures" is defined as "pipes, pipe, plumbing fittings and fixtures used to convey or dispense water for human consumption."

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