Lead In Plumbing Legislation

Recent Legislation

California Senate Bills 1334 and 1395 (Stats. 2008) amended Health and Safety Code (HSC) section 116875 and added HSC section 25214.4.3 regarding requirements for lead in plumbing.

Regulatory Background

Federal law -- Section 1417 of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) [Section 300g-6 of 42 U.S. Code (USC)]-- requires that after June 19, 1986, only "lead-free" pipe, solder or flux may be used in the installation or repair of (1) public water systems or (2) any plumbing in a residential or non-residential facility that is connected to a public water system and provides water for human consumption. "Lead free," as defined in the SDWA, means that the maximum allowed concentration is

  • 0.2 percent in solder and flux;
  • 8.0 percent in pipes and pipe fittings;
  • 4.0 percent lead by dry weight in plumbing fittings and fixtures.

In addition to the 8.0 percent limitation on lead content, certain plumbing fittings and fixtures must meet with standards established in accordance with section 1417(e) of the SDWA. As discussed further below, federal law requires that plumbing fittings and fixtures must comply with the standards contained in NSF Standard 61, section 9.

A National Primary Drinking Water Regulation (NPDWR or primary standard) is a legally- enforceable standard that applies to public water systems, given the authority by SDWA.

On January 1, 2010, California law (HSC section 116875) further reduced "lead free" to mean that the maximum allowed lead content is:

  • 0.2 percent lead in solder and flux;
  • 0.25 percent lead in wetted surfaces of pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings and fixtures, as determined by a weighted average.

The new California law further prohibits:

  • Any person from using any pipe, pipe or plumbing fitting or fixture, solder, or flux that is not "lead free" in the installation or repair of any public water system or any plumbing in a facility providing water for human consumption, except when necessary for repair of leaded joints of cast iron pipes;
  • Any person from introducing into commerce any pipe, pipe or plumbing fitting, or fixture that is not "lead free," except for a pipe that is used in manufacturing or industrial processing;  
  • Any person engaged in the business of selling plumbing supplies, except manufacturers, from selling solder or flux in the business that is not "lead free;"
  • Any person from introducing into commerce any solder or flux that is not "lead free" unless the solder or flux has a label stating that it is illegal to use solder or flux in the installation or repair of any plumbing providing water for human consumption.

State law also requires all pipe, pipe or plumbing fittings or fixtures, solder, or flux to be certified as being in compliance with HSC section 116875 by an independent American National Standards Institute (ANSI) accredited third party.

Further, under HSC section 25214.4.3, DTSC is required, based on available resources, to conduct lead plumbing monitoring testing, and annually collect field samples for testing and evaluation. The results of testing and evaluation are required to be posted on the DTSC Internet Web site, and transmitted to California Department of Public Health. 

For all purposes other than manufacturing, industrial processing, or conveying or dispensing water for human consumption, the definition of "lead free" remains consistent with federal requirements:

  • 0.2 percent lead in solder and flux;
  • 8.0 percent lead in pipes and pipe fittings;
  • 4.0 percent lead by dry weight in plumbing fittings and fixtures.