Final Rule on Lead from EPA

The EPA has announced the final rule on lead in drinking water plumbing systems.

EPA Issues Final Rule on Lead

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced issuance of the final rule “Use of Lead Free Pipes, Fittings, Fixtures, Solder, and Flux for Drinking Water.”

In the final rule, EPA is implementing regulations associated with the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act (RLDWA) issued in 2011 and fully implemented on Jan. 4, 2014, commonly known as the “Get the Lead Out” initiative.

The RLDWA amended the Safe Drinking Water Act with a new definition of “lead free:”

  1. Not containing more than 0.2% lead when used with respect to solder and flux; and
  2. Not more than a weighted average of 0.25% lead when used with respect to the wetted surfaces of pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings, and fixtures.

 

Good News

The new ruling is intended to provide a framework of compliance to the 2011 amendment and addresses areas such as: further defining products covered under the RLDWA; means of showing compliance; and providing an implementation date for complying with the compliance requirements.

The good news is that the final rule should have zero to limited impact on products currently in the supply chain.

The final rule does not change the definition of “lead free” from the definition enacted in 2011, although it does provide some further clarification related to products covered or exempted. Many products that are used exclusively for non-potable services are exempted from the lead prohibitions.

The final rule also specifies when third-party ANSI-accredited certification is needed and explains exclusions from this requirement.

There is a new labeling requirement noted in the final rule that impacts solders and fluxes. Solder and flux that is not “lead free” must bear a prominent label stating that it is illegal to use the solder or flux in the installation or repair of any plumbing providing water for human consumption.

The implementation of the new certification requirement will go into effect 3 years following the official publication of the rule in the Federal Register. Due to existing standards and codes, the majority of products in the marketplace already comply with the requirements.

The publication of this new rule is a long time coming from the original adoption of the “lead free” definition in the 2011 RLDWA. The good news is that the U.S. EPA took the comments received from industry related to third-party certification and labeling and came out with a final rule that will have a limited economic impact on the manufacturers while also having almost no impact on wholesalers/distributors that sell the products covered under the RLDWA.

For details on the final lead ruling, see the “Use of Lead Free Pipes, Fittings, Fixtures, Solder, and Flux for Drinking Water”  or visit ASA.net.

PHCC of NC

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