EPA Final Rule Lead-Free Plumbing

EPA and Lead-Free Plumbing

In late July 2020 EPA released a pre-publication Federal Register final rule, codifying Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) requirements regarding lead-free plumbing.  The final rule was published in today’s Federal Register (EPA Lead Free Pipes_Fed Reg_2020-09-01).

AWWA Fact Sheet on Lead Free Plumbing

The American Water Works Association (AWWA) prepared a Fact Sheet on the EPA’s final rule regarding lead free plumbing.  You can find a copy of the AWWA Fact Sheet at the web site link below (scroll down to the middle of the page, the Fact Sheet is at the link “Implications for Current Practice: Lead Free Pipes, Fittings, Fixtures, Solder, and Flux for Drinking Water Rule” (copy enclosed, AWWA FS_EPA Lead Free Rule).


EPA Web Page on Lead-Free Plumbing:

Link below is to web site where EPA posted a copy of today’s final rule and there are links for additional information, including an EPA publication on how to identify lead free certification marks.


Background.  The lead-free requirements were first enacted in the 1986 SDWA Amendments.  The 1986 Amendments defined lead free as “solder and flux with no more than 0.2% lead and pipes with no more than 8%.”  The 1996 Amendments to the SDWA made it illegal for any pipe or plumbing fixture that was not lead-free to be introduced into commerce except for pipes used in manufacturing or industrial processing, and required lead leaching standards be developed by 3rd party certifiers.

In 2011 the “Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act” (RLDWA) revised the allowable lead content and reduced it to a weighted average of 0.25%.  The RLDWA removed the requirement for the lead leaching standards included in the 1996 Amendments, and included exemptions for plumbing products used exclusively for non-potable services and for specific plumbing devices (i.e. toiles, bidets, etc).  In 2013 the Community Fire Safety Act (CFSA) further amended the SDWA to add fire hydrants to the list of excluded devices.

According to the Agency, the final rule will be added to the Code of Federal Regulations in order to “….further assure consistent implementation and enforcement of the SDWA lead prohibitions on use and introduction into commerce of certain products that are not lead free.”