• Lead-Free FAQ's

    Here you'll find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions; check back often as we'll make updates as new questions arise.

    Yes. Silicon is the second most abundant element within the earth’s crust (component of sand) and acts to strengthen copper alloys. Silicone (with an “e”) is a man-made substance derived from silicon and other chemicals and it may be a liquid or rubber–like plastic polymer.

    The Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act went into effect January 4, 2014. However, lead content restrictions have been effective in California and Vermont since January 1, 2010, Maryland since January 2012, and Louisiana since January 2013. It is against the law to sell or install products for use in potable water applications that are not lead free nationally as of January 4, 2014.

    Please reference NIBCO Lead Free Products for an extensive list of products that comply with the aforementioned standards.

    Truesdail Laboratories, NSF International (NSF), Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Water Quality Association (WQA), International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials Research and Testing (IAPMO R&T), CSA Group, Intertek Testing Services, and ICC Evaluation Services (ICC ES) all provide certification. Reference the EPA document, How to Identify Lead-Free Certification Marks for Drinking Water System & Plumbing Materials available at NIBCO Lead Free Resources for a list of markings you should look for that indicate compliance.

    They are not. Due to the order of wording and lack of punctuation, the exemption has caused confusion. The exemption is specific to gate valves in water-distribution mains 2” in diameter or larger. The Safe Drinking Water Act covers the entire system from water collection all the way to the drinking tap regardless of pipe diameter or valve type.

    Lead acts as a chip breaker during machining, lubricates machine tools, and fills casting porosity to aid in casting tightness. Also, as lead segregates into discrete pools within the alloy, it naturally pretins solder cups aiding in solder coverage during installation.

    No. NIBCO manufactures products for a number of markets beyond plumbing such as fire protection, HVAC and irrigation, among others. Non-drinking water applications are beyond the scope of the new law.

    Please reference www.nibcoleadfree.com and select the specific lead-free product. Documentation is
    located under the “certifications” tab.

    The new standard does not apply to pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings or fixtures that are used exclusively for non-potable services such as manufacturing, industrial processing, irrigation, outdoor watering, or any other uses where water is not anticipated to be used for human consumption. The law also specifically excludes toilets, bidets, urinals, fill valves, flushometer valves, tub fillers, shower valves, service saddles, or water distribution main gate valves that are 2 inches in diameter or larger.

    Yes, there are three options:

    • Cold water applications: an end-use that is intended to result in continuous exposure to water at ambient temperature. Products are tested for an end-use temperature of 73 ± 4°F.

    • Domestic hot water applications: an end-use that is intended to result in continuous or intermittent exposure to water above that is above ambient, such as a part of the hot side of a residential piping system. Products are tested for an end-use temperature of 140 ± 4°F.

    • Commercial hot water applications: an end-use that is intended to result in continuous or intermittent exposure to water that is above ambient and domestic hot conditions, such as a part of the hot side of a commercial piping system. Products are tested for an end-use temperature of 180 ± 4°F.

    There is currently no industry standardization regarding the marking of lead-free products. Manufacturers may vary in the ways in which they mark their products. NIBCO identifies lead-free products with the unique HydraPure® double oval, white valve handles, blue hang tags, and blue carton labels. For detailed information on how to recognize LF products, reference NIBCO product identifier document www.nibcoleadfree.com.

    There are a variety of lead-free alloy formulations that have been developed that use silicon, bismuth, or other constituents as a primary lead replacement. For over two decades, NIBCO has led the industry in the development of lead-free alloys and commercialization of lead-free plumbing products. To overcome technical limitations of bismuth-based lead-free alloys, NIBCO focused on the development of silicon Performance Bronze™ alloys that exhibit far superior mechanical properties than traditional leaded alloys. Reference NIBCO White Papers WP-LFCAC-1012 and WP-LFPAC- 1012 for more information on the benefits of silicon bronze LF alloys.

    The standard establishes procedures for the determination of lead content based on the wetted surface area of products. This standard applies to any drinking water system component that conveys or dispenses water for human consumption through drinking or cooking. The NSF/ANSI 372 standard is consistent with requirements of the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act.

    An optional evaluation method for products that need to meet a ≤0.25% weighted average lead content standard. Products evaluated for compliance with Annex G must first comply with the full requirements of NSF/ANSI 61. The method for evaluation of lead content is in accordance with NSF/ANSI 372.

    This revision lowered the total allowable concentration (TAC) for lead from 15 μg/L to 5 μg/L and lowered the single product allowable concentration (SPAC) for lead from 1.5 μg/l to 0.5 μg/L. The requirements defined within Annex F of NSF/ANSI 61 were incorporated into the body of the standard on July 1, 2012.

    The standard establishes minimum requirements for the chemical contaminants and impurities that are indirectly imparted to drinking water from products, components, and materials used in drinking water systems. It is intended to cover specific materials or products that come in contact with drinking water, drinking water treatment chemicals, or both.

    There is no mandatory federal requirement for product testing or third-party certification under the Safe Drinking Water Act; however, some entities such as the state of California do require certification. Users can increase their level of confidence by installing products that have been certified by a third-party ANSI-accredited body. The NSF/ANSI 372 standard is consistent with requirements of the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act.

    The U.S. EPA is tasked with implementing this law; however, primary responsibility for enforcing the law is left to the states. Most states pass responsibility to cities, towns, and municipal utilities, which use health and plumbing codes to drive enforcement.

    The new law reduces the permissible levels of lead in the wetted surfaces of pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings and fixtures to a weighted average of not more than 0.25%. In addition, the law retains the 0.20% lead limit for solders and flux first implemented in 1986 and stipulates a method for calculating the weighted average lead content. Products that meet this standard are referred to in the law as lead free.

    The Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act is a federal law that amends the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and sets new, lower standards for the amount of lead permissible in plumbing products that come into contact with potable (drinkable) water. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has primary responsibility for interpreting the SDWA with individual states using health or plumbing codes or other standards consistent with the SDWA and EPA regulations to enforce those standards.

    NIBCO lead-free initiatives have a direct correlation to improving health and safety. Additionally, water is a finite natural resource which requires conservation and preservation. As a manufacturer of plumbing products, we continue to stay abreast of industry trends and to be in compliance with laws designed to safeguard drinking water.