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There are no Federal requirements for controlling lead in drinking water that apply specifically to newly constructed buildings. However, three provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA): the 1986 SDWA lead ban; the 1988 Lead Contamination and Control Act (LCCA); and the 1991 Lead and Copper Rule (LCR), were implemented to control lead and copper in drinking water distribution systems. The SDWA lead ban set limits on how much lead content can be found in materials used in construction of water system distribution and building plumbing systems by defining various “lead free” materials. Lead free solder and flux cannot contain more than 0.2 percent lead by weight. Lead-free fixtures or fittings (e.g., faucets, valves, and pressure-reducing devices) cannot contain more than 8.0 percent lead by weight. The LCCA only recommended controlling lead in schools and child care centers. The LCR was intended to identify distribution system-wide corrosion problems by targeting older homes containing lead solder and lead pipe that are at a higher risk for leaching lead. While the 1986 SDWA lead ban did minimize sources of lead in plumbing systems, research conducted since the ban took effect shows that fixtures and fittings containing 8.0 percent lead, primarily those made from brass, can still leach significant amounts of lead into drinking water. Ensuring acceptable water quality in new buildings is essential to maintaining public health and mission success. There have been several recent incidents where elevated levels of lead in drinking water were identified in newly constructed buildings. These elevated lead levels pose a public health threat.
If a Y-strainer or similar straining plumbing component continues to leach lead levels above 0.015 mg/L, or a different type of plumbing component is identified as a major contributor of lead (e.g., brass shut-off valve, pressure reducing valve, compression fittings), then replace with a certified low lead plumbing component. These components have been third party certified to contain equal to or less than 0.25 percent lead by weight. This is much less lead content than the current SDWA lead ban requirement of less than or equal to 8.0 percent lead by weight. These components are certified through the NSF® Standard 61, Annex G testing process. Numerous manufacturers have many different plumbing components Annex G certified. Plumbing products certified to meet the low lead requirement will have one of the certification marks shown in Figure 8 on the product packaging. Low-lead plumbing products can also be found on the NSF product and service listings website
Standard 61 – Water and Wastewater/Plumbing Fixtures and Fittings/Lead Content Compliance: On January 4, 2014, the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) will go into effect requiring drinking water products sold or installed for use in public water systems, as well as plumbing in facilities, to meet a weighted average of not more than 0.25 percent lead. Third-party certification of these products to the new lead-free requirements will be required in many jurisdictions. Additionally, the states of California, Vermont, Maryland and Louisiana have already instituted these requirements for products currently in the market.
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