Fact Sheets and FAQs

 

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Q. How could lead get into my drinking water?
A.

Lead gets into water after water leaves your local treatment plant or well. The source of lead in your home's water is most likely corrosion of the pipes or solder in your home's own plumbing. Corrosion results from a reaction between the water and the plumbing parts. Dissolved oxygen, low pH (acidity) and low mineral content in water are common causes of corrosion. One factor that increases corrosion is the practice of grounding electrical equipment (such as telephones) to water pipes. Any electric current traveling through the ground wire will accelerate the corrosion of lead in pipes. Eliminating the lead content in your home plumbing is an effective control of lead in drinking or cooking water.

Q. Which products are affected by the changes to the law that are effective January 1, 2010?
A.

Beginning January 1, 2010, the law requires pipes and pipe fittings, plumbing fittings, or fixtures, and any other end-use devices intended to convey or dispense water for human consumption through drinking or cooking to meet the new "lead-free" definition. An end use device as defined by the standard is "any single device typically installed within the last one liter of the water distribution system of a building." Products covered by the new lead leaching requirements include kitchen, bar, and lavatory faucets; drinking water fountains; water coolers; residential refrigerator ice makers; and water dispensers, and supply stops and endpoint control valves. Product types exempted by law are service saddles, back-flow preventers for non-potable services such as irrigation and industrial, and water distribution main gate valves that are two inches in diameter.

Q. Where can my plumbing products get certified?
A.

A certification must be issued by an independent American National Standards Institute (ANSI) accredited third party. For a full list and more information on ANSI accredited third party certifiers, please check the ANSI Web site.

Q. Will any monitoring program be set up?
A.

The January 2009 law establishes a testing program for the lead content in plumbing products. HSC section 25214.4.3 requires DTSC, based on available resources, to annually collect up to 75 drinking water faucets or other drinking water plumbing fittings and fixtures for testing and evaluation. The law requires the results be posted on DTSC’s Web site and to be transmitted annually to the California Department of Public Health.

Q. Which products are excluded from DTSC’s annual testing and evaluation program required by HSC section 25214.4.3?
A.

While HSC section 25214.4.3 does not specifically exclude any product(s) from being subject to the testing and evaluation requirements, it does tie the testing program to those items subject to HSC section 116875. HSC section 116875 provides that the following items that are not subject to its requirements:

·        service saddles;

·        back-flow preventers which protect/separate potable water systems from non- potable services such as irrigation, industrial and laboratory use;

·        water distribution main gate valves that are two inches in diameter and above; and

·        pipes, pipe or plumbing fittings, or fixtures that used in manufacturing, industrial processing, for irrigation purposes, and any other uses where the water is not intended for human consumption through drinking or cooking

Assembly member Wilma Chan, the author of Assembly Bill 1953 (Chapter 853, Stats. 2006), which codified the low lead requirements for plumbing products, has published additional guidance about what she intended to be subject to the low lead requirement. Essentially, Assembly member Chan emphasized that the program was aimed only at those items that can reasonably be described as intended to convey or dispense water for human consumption. Therefore, based on the plain language of the statute, the legislative history, and Assembly member Chan’s letter, DTSC’s initial rounds of sampling for its testing program will aim at those items that can reasonably be described as intended to convey or dispense water for human consumption through drinking or cooking.
 

Q. Will DTSC develop a list and release it to the public indicating which products will be included in DTSC’s testing and evaluation program?
A.

No. Health and Safety Code section 25214.4.3 does not direct DTSC to establish such a list prior to sample collection. Based on the language of the statute, the legislative history, and the available resource, DTSC will exercise its own judgment on which product type will and will not be evaluated in the initial rounds of sampling and testing program.  Further, DTSC will continue to evaluate for inclusion in its monitoring sample population any device which would be reasonably described as intended to convey or dispense water for human consumption through drinking or cooking.

Q. Has DTSC developed a protocol for testing plumbing materials?
A.

Yes. Health and Safety Code section 25214.4.3 requires DTSC to use test methods, protocols, and sample preparation procedures that are adequate to determine total lead concentration in a drinking water plumbing fitting or fixture to determine compliance with the lead content standards. In the August 2009 fact sheet “Testing and Evaluation of Lead Content in Plumbing Products, Materials, and Components”, DTSC outlined the testing protocols for lead content analysis in drinking water faucets and other drinking water plumbing fittings and fixtures that DTSC will use in its lead plumbing monitoring program. The analytical procedures for determining lead content percentage (as set forth in Section 2 of the August 2009 fact sheet) was used by DTSC during a round-robin study, in which nine laboratories, including DTSC’s Environmental Chemistry Laboratory, participated to evaluate laboratory procedures for lead content analysis.

Q. As a third party certifier, should I use the lab protocol document DTSC recently posted on its Web site for lead-free certification?
A.

California law requires certification for pipe, pipe or plumbing fittings or fixtures, solder, or flux by an independent American National Standards Institute (ANSI) accredited third party, which includes, at a minimum, testing of materials in accordance with DTSC protocols. (HSC, § 116875(g.).)  DTSC’s August 2009 fact sheet identifies certain analytical methods for lead content analysis DTSC will use during its monitor program, but recognizes equivalent analytical methods to be used. Third party testing organizations can use these analytical methods to test or monitor plumbing products, materials and components during certification process provided that adequate performance is demonstrated for total lead content analysis.

Q. How will DTSC’s testing and evaluation program apply to plumbing fittings or fixture repair and replacement parts?
A.

The new lead content requirements apply broadly to all pipes, pipe fittings or plumbing fittings, or fixtures intended to convey or dispense water for human consumption. (Health and Safety Code, § 116875, subdivisions (a) and (b).) The statute does not contain an explicit exemption for replacement parts from the new lead content requirements. Nor has DTSC found any supporting information in the legislation or related materials supporting the notion that the California Legislature intended to exempt such a broad category of materials as “replacement parts.” To do so would mean that for years or even decades after the law’s adoption, no meaningful reduction in lead exposure from drinking water would occur. Moreover, as plumbing fixtures sit on retail shelves available for purchase in California, there is no distinction between “new” and “replacement” parts. They are the same.

If DTSC were to test a plumbing fitting or fixture replacement part, obtained from a readily accessible retail or wholesale location, DTSC would apply the lead content formula to the specific part to determine whether the part met the 0.25% weighted average lead content standard. DTSC recognizes that applying the statutory lead content formula to individual replacement parts may result in replacement parts with a different lead content than the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts. However, this law was designed to gradually phase-out plumbing parts containing lead as part of the normal replacement cycle for pipes, pipe fittings or plumbing fittings, or fixtures. To interpret the lead content formula to allow the use of lead containing replacement parts with a weighted average lead content above the statutory level would be contrary to that purpose.

Q. How does DTSC select up to 75 drinking water faucets and other drinking water plumbing fittings and fixtures to test and evaluate in its annual monitor program?
A.

Health and Safety Code section 25214.4.3 requires DTSC to exercise its judgment regarding the specific drinking water plumbing fittings or fixtures to test. The law also does not require DTSC’s selection to be either random or representative of all available plumbing fittings or fixtures. We appreciate your input and will value your opinions in our decision-making process. We will continue our ongoing outreach efforts. DTSC is developing general sample collection strategy which will be posted on this web site. If you have specific ideas for priorities in the selection of samples to test, please send your comments to leadinplumbing@dtsc.ca.gov.

Q. What will be the procedure upon DTSC posting its annual testing and evaluation results in its public web site? Will the manufacturer have an opportunity to respond and verify that the product is genuine and not a counterfeit?
A.

DTSC recognizes there are issues of concern to manufacturers such as the authenticity of products tested, variability within and between material and product batches, and controls over distribution chains. DTSC will contact each manufacturer whose product was collected for sampling prior to posting its annual testing results. There will be a case-by-case determination by DTSC of the level of interaction with manufacturers, distributors, or retailers whose tested products do not meet the lead free standards prior to posting results.

Q. Is DTSC responsible for enforcement of any of these new lead free laws?
A.

For the implementation of these new lead content requirements, the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) is required to conduct lead plumbing monitoring and testing as part of its ongoing program to reduce toxics substances from the environment (Health & Saf. Code, § 25214.4.3). Specifically, DTSC is required to 1) annually select, to the extent resources are available, up to 75 drinking water faucets and other fittings and fixtures for testing and evaluation to determine compliance with the lead free standards in Health and Safety Code section 116875, 2) post the test results on DTSC’s internet web site, and 3) transmit the test results in an annual report to the California Department of Public Health (DPH). While DTSC is required to test and evaluate compliance to the lead free standards, enforcement authority of the lead free standard was not given to DTSC.

Q. What other state or local agencies do have authority for enforcement of these new lead free laws?
A.

The California Legislature gave enforcement authority over the new lead plumbing standards in Health and Safety Code section 116875 to “the appropriate state and local building and health officials” (see Health & Saf. Code, § 116880). Lead free standards violations may also be enforced through a civil action under the California Unfair Competition Law by the Attorney General, district attorneys, or city attorneys. Regarding the California Department of Public Health (DPH) Drinking Water Program, if the products or components are considered part of a public water system, they are regulated through the Drinking Water Program requirements. That would include California Waterworks Standards (California Code of Regulations, Title 22, Division 4, Chapter 16.) In particular, Title 22, California Code of Regulations, Section 64591 provides that public water system components must be certified to meet ANSI/NSF Standard 61 or “a more stringent statutory requirement” such as the requirements of Section 116875. Questions concerning DPH’s “lead free” requirements for the Drinking Water Program's regulation of public water systems may be addressed by emails at AB1953DWP@cdph.ca.gov.