ANN ARBOR, MICH. – NSF International in mid-January announced the development of a new compositional standard for products that come in contact with drinking water, including faucets. The new requirements are incorporated into the NSF/ANSI American National Standard for Drinking Water Products to help protect the public from exposure to lead.

Laws requiring plumbing products to be essentially lead-free have been passed in California and Vermont. Similar legislation is pending in the State of Washington and it would be not surprising if other states followed.

“Annex G – Weighted Average Lead Content Evaluation Procedure to a 0.25% Lead Requirement” allows manufacturers to demonstrate compliance to recently enacted legislation in California and Vermont that limits the weighted average of lead content in plumbing products, which come in contact with drinking water, to 0.25%.

The annex was recently incorporated into NSF/ANSI Standard 61: Drinking Water System Components — Health Effects, a standard that includes procedures to evaluate products that come in contact with drinking water and to screen out those products that could contribute excessive levels of contaminants into drinking water. Products covered in the standard include pipes and related products; protective and barrier materials; joining and sealing materials; process media (such as carbon, sand, zeolite, ion exchange media); mechanical devices, including water meters, in-line valves, filters, process equipment; mechanical plumbing devices, such as faucets and drinking fountains; and non-metallic potable water materials.

California led the nation in enacting a ban on lead in plumbing products by passing AB1953 in August 2006, limiting the lead content of faucets to 0.25% as of January 2010. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the bill in September of that year.

At the time, manufacturers believed that they would have a difficult time producing products that complied with the law, but their engineers have risen to the task.

Delta Faucet was the first faucet manufacturer to announce a compliant product more than a year ago when it introduced its Diamond Seal technology on kitchen faucets where the waterways are lined with PEX. Delta said that it had been working on the technology for seven years and it happened to be in the right place at the right time when AB1953 was passed. Delta has since rolled out the lead-free technology to most of its line of single handle faucets, and two-handle faucets will be compliant soon.

T&S Brass has announced that its low-lead products have been certified under the NSF/ANSI Standard 61 Annex and that its complete product line will be compliant by 2010. It will ship certain products with a “CA” designation this year.

Chicago Faucet has introduced its ECAST line of low-lead products, many of them for commercial and institutional applications, such as lavatory metering faucets.

“Danze is working very diligently on converting its entire line of kitchen and bath faucets to be compliant with California and Vermont lead-free mandates,” said a spokeswoman. “We’ll be ready by the deadline of January 2010, probably even sooner. No one collection is affected — the entire line will be compliant.”

Speakman has engineered a specification quality commercial brass line that meets AB1953 low-lead requirements.

“We believe it is extremely important to provide our commercial and institutional customers the same high level of quality and durability they have come to expect from Speakman in our low-lead line as with any other Speakman product,” said Bill Walbrandt, director of commercial plumbing for Speakman.

The low-lead line contains many of Speakman’s faucet types including 4-in. sensor faucets, widespread faucets, and 4-in. centerset faucets, among others.

Now that the California Building Standards Commission has approved PEX pipe for the California Plumbing Code, the low-lead law will affect fittings for PEX plumbing. Viega North America LLC told CONTRACTOR that it has either a bronze or PEX fitting that will meet the California law. Uponor is offering an engineered plastic polymer fitting now and will soon introduce a low-lead brass fitting for its AquaPEX plumbing system.

NSF’s Lead Task Group developed the annex to Standard 61with guidance from regulators, proponents of the California lead bill, industry representatives and the NSF Standard 61 Joint Committee. The NSF Joint Committee is comprised of equal representation from public health, user communities and industry to ensure an open, transparent and consensus process.

While California lead content requirements are not scheduled to go into effect until 2010, NSF is providing product evaluations against the annex now, and updating NSF 61 listings to indicate compliance with the low lead requirement.