News Brief

Brass Plumbing Fixtures Leaching Lead

The protocol for testing the amount of lead that leaches into water from fixtures, valves, and other plumbing components is inadequate, according to a research team from Virginia Tech and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The 1986 Safe Drinking Water Act, amended in 1996, bans new devices containing pure lead pipe, leaded solders, and brass with more than 8% lead content. Brass products containing 7.99% lead may be labeled lead-free, but all brass products containing lead must pass the Section 8 standard from the American National Standards Institute and National Sanitation Foundation. Various water conditions, including acidity, amount of dissolved carbon, and amount of chemical additives, dramatically alter the amount of lead that leaches from plumbing fixtures, rendering the Section 8 test unsuitable, according to the researchers. “It’s analogous to an automobile crash test using a wall of pillows,” said Virginia Tech’s Marc Edwards, one of the study leaders. Using Section 8 standards, the team found even a solid-lead fixture to be in compliance. The study was published in the August 4, 2005, issue of the

Journal of the American Water Works Association, online at www.awwa.org.

Published September 1, 2005

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