By Christopher Zook
It's easy to take something so fundamental as clean drinking water for granted. Residents of First World countries can pour glasses of crystal-clear water without a second thought to the planning, manufacturing, and regulation that went into the plumbing behind it, and often we don't need to. But every once in a while, it's important to take a look at the laws behind these simple, every-day activities.
Especially when they change.
In January 2014, the revised Safe Drinking Water Act will take effect. Originally enacted in 1972 and revised in 1986 and 1996, the latest amendment will drastically reduce the amount of acceptable lead in plumbing fixtures that contact water used for cooking and drinking from 8% to 0.25%. This revision comes in the wake of legal changes made by Vermont, California, Maryland, and Louisiana, all of which have made the same lead reduction mandatory for state residents at various years (Louisiana is next in 2013). But if you live in one of the states that hasn't passed such a law and you want to get an idea of what will be expected of you, be sure to look at what each state has already done.
Vermont, California, and Maryland all share very similar laws, though they do vary in some ways. Still, the core of each law is the same: plumbing equipment that is in contact with water used for cooking, drinking, or other human consumption cannot contain a weighted average of more than 0.25% lead. Each state carries individual stipulations, such as Vermont requiring businesses that sell products with more than 0.25% lead content "clearly and conspicuously" post a warning about the presence of lead and the risks of lead exposure. California does the same, but also requires American National Standards Institute certification on its plumbing, including NSF International, which reviews lead-free products under the certifications NSF 372 and 61 Annex G. Similarly, Maryland prohibits the sale of certain plumbing materials based on the amount of lead in them, with additional regulations concerning dry weight and other factors.
For more information and history on these state laws, check out www.weareleadfree.net.
The change made to the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act in 1996 set the limit for lead in new plumbing lines at 8%, based on a variety of factors including the component's size, weight, etc. With the most recent amendment to the law, these same factors still apply, and the lead reduction means that if you ever have to replace plumbing lines that are in contact with drinking water, the replacement parts you use will be substantially cleaner, safer, and healthier than the originals. Conversely, it could also mean spending more money on more refined, legally compliant plumbing, so you may take a larger hit to the wallet than with previous projects.
How We Can Help
To help with that wallet-getting-hit thing (and the legal thing, too), The WEBstaurant Store has your back. We've been helping customers in California, Vermont, and Maryland stay compliant with state laws since they've been enacted, and in a year and a half we'll do the same for the whole country. We carry a huge variety of sink accessories to ensure that we have what you need, whenever you need it. We also feature equipment from reputable vendors like T&S Brass and Bronze Works, one of the first companies to have all of its water equipment intended for human consumption NSF Listed. And to help you narrow down the parts that are right for you, we also offer a handy and informative sink and faucet buying guide that you can use at any time. So have no fear - The WEBstaurant Store has all the faucets, sinks, and more to ensure your next project is up-to-date and compliant with federal law.