NSF Annexes Calif. Lead Content Code in Standard 61

New lead content requirements for plumbing products have been added to California's Health & Safety Code (Section 116875; commonly known as AB1953), which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2010.

After this date, any pipe, fitting, or fixture intended to convey or dispense water for human consumption through drinking or cooking must meet a weighted average lead content of less than or equal to 0.25 percent. The requirement of this law was incorporated as an annex into the American National Standard for health effects of drinking water system components: NSF/ANSI Standard 61.

Recently, however, there have been misleading statements from some industry sources indicating NSF 61, Annex G does not provide for compliance with the requirements of AB1953, according to a recent press release.

East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD), which provides water to over 1.3 million residents in the eastern San Francisco Bay Area, was one of the original sponsors of AB1953. Representatives from EBMUD worked with other utilities, regulators, plumbing industry, and product manufacturing representatives to develop NSF 61, Annex G.

Richard Sykes, manager of Natural Resources, EBMUD said: “Annex G of NSF/ANSI 61 - 2008 was developed with input from California’s Department of Public Health and California’s East Bay Municipal Utility District and establishes a conservative protocol to determine product compliance with the 0.25 percent maximum weighted average lead content requirement of California Health & Safety Code (Section 116875). The DPH has stated to us (EBMUD) that compliance with Annex G ensures compliance with this requirement.”

Richard Sykes explains: “I made the request to the NSF Drinking Water Additives Joint Committee with oversight of the standard to include the annex to allow manufacturers the option of being certified to California’s reduced lead content requirement. The annex was developed with input from stakeholders in California and care was taken to assure full compatibility with the law. The adoption of Annex G last December fulfills the request made by the Joint Committee.”

The NSF 61 committee is currently conducting a series of round-robin testing with manufacturers, product certification organizations, and the California Department of Toxic Substances to validate a referee analysis method for alloy lead content when testing of materials is required. When completed, the method will be incorporated into the standard.

The annex was developed to establish an American National Standard to determine product compliance with the less than or equal to 0.25 percent maximum weighted average lead content requirement of the California Health & Safety Code, as well as a standard for other states to reference if they are developing similar regulations. A similar law has been enacted in Vermont and is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2010.