EPA details progress to reduce lead in drinking water

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a final rule to reduce lead in plumbing materials used in public water systems, homes, schools and other facilities.

This action marks a significant milestone in implementing the Trump Administration’s Federal Action Plan to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposures and Associated Health Impacts. Along with other actions taken by EPA and our federal, state and local partners, this final rule will help protect public health—especially children’s health—from the risks associated with lead exposure.

“The Trump Administration is committed to providing clean and safe drinking water for all Americans,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “The Lead-Free rule is a critical step in EPA’s efforts to substantially improve children’s health and further the agency’s Action Plan goal of reducing children’s exposure to lead sources.”

The Lead-Free final rule significantly limits the lead content allowed in plumbing materials (e.g., pipes, fittings, and fixtures) used in new construction and replacement of existing plumbing. Specifically, the new rule reduces the percentage of lead content allowed in these materials from eight percent to 0.25 percent in accordance with the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act.

The final rule also requires that manufacturers or importers certify that their products meet the requirements using a consistent verification process. As a result, this new rule will reduce lead in drinking water and assure that states, manufacturers, inspectors and consumers have a common understanding of “Lead Free” plumbing.

The EPA also sent the final Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) to the Office of Management and Budget. This will be the first major update to the LCR in nearly three decades. On October 10, 2019, the agency proposed a proactive and holistic approach to improving the current LCR — from testing to treatment to replacing lead service lines to telling the public about the levels and risks of lead in drinking water. These improvements would further reduce lead in drinking water and help assure that water is less corrosive to older, lead containing plumbing materials.

The Lead-Free final rule will become effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register and the certification requirement must be implemented within three years.

To learn more about the final “Use of Lead-Free Pipes, Fittings, Fixtures, Solder, and Flux for Drinking Water” rule, visit: https://www.epa.gov/sdwa/use-lead-free-pipes-fittings-fixtures-solder-and-flux-drinking-water.

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