Q: Does the Safe Drinking Water Act regulate lead in pipes and plumbing fixtures?

The SDWA requires that after June 19, 1986, only “lead free” pipe, solder, or flux may be used in the installation or repair of a public water system, or any plumbing in residential or...

The SDWA requires that after June 19, 1986, only “lead free” pipe, solder, or flux may be used in the installation or repair of a public water system, or any plumbing in residential or non-residential facility providing water for human consumption, which is connected to a public water system. Lead free under the SDWA means that solders and flux may not contain more than 0.2 percent lead, and pipe, pipe fittings, and well pumps may not contain more than 8.0 percent lead (40 CFR 141.43). By amending Section 1417 of the SDWA in 1996, Congress incorporated a performance standard into the law for endpoint devices intended to dispense water for human consumption. Section 1417 (e) of the SDWA states that  "lead free" with regard to plumbing fittings and fixtures intended to dispense water for human consumption means those fittings and fixtures that are in compliance with a voluntary standard established pursuant to the Act. This standard, NSF Standard 61, Section 9, relates to the amount of lead leached from a product while "lead free" relates to lead content. Beginning January, 2014, changes to the Safe Drinking Water Act will further reduce the maximum allowable lead content of pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings and fixtures to 0.25%.