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Do You Use Brass Fittings for Water Filter Installation?

In January 2011 the Safe Drinking Water Act was amended with the addition of The Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act which deals with the use and introduction into commerce of pipe, plumbing fittings, fixtures, solder and flux that may contain lead.  This Amendment goes into effect January 4, 2014. 

Why is the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act important to foodservice establishments and providers of water filtration and treatment equipment and plumbing connections? 

This Law requires that the wetted surfaces of pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings and fixtures be “Lead-Free”.  This covers valves, connectors and tubing that are commonly used in the installation of water-using equipment that is intended for consumption or potable water.  For example, an espresso machine installed after January 4th, 2014 will have to have feed water lines, connections, water supply valves, etc. that are certified lead-free.  Even if the fittings, pipe and valves were purchased before this date by the dealer, distributor or installer; if it is to be installed in a place of commerce after January 4th, it has to be installed with components that are “lead-free”. The main materials that this focuses on are copper, brass and bronze and solder where lead has been used to make the products easy to machine and produce. Generally, you will not find lead as a component of plastics or stainless steel.  

What does “Lead-Free” mean in relation to this Act?  The components must not have more than a weighted average of 0.25% lead when used with respect to the wetted surfaces of pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings and fixtures.  

An area that is confusing, based on what I have read on the EPA site, is in regards to appliances or equipment.  For example, a clothes washing machine is exempt from the law whereas a dishwasher and water heater is not.  A “coffee maker” (I assume a pour-over like a Mr. Coffee) and a pour-over filter pitcher are exempt whereas a plumbed-in water filter is not.  It appears that plumbed-in appliances such as commercial coffee and tea brewers, espresso machines, ice machines, steam-cooking ovens and post-mix beverage dispensers are not exempt and must meet the “Lead-Free” requirement.  In reality most of this equipment will be tested in its normal operating configuration and will result in a rather large volume of water in contact with the wetted surfaces basically lowering the weighted average.  However, with espresso machines and post-mix beverage systems there will be more wetted component surfaces that will have to be considered. 

One example of a component manufacturer is Procon Products. They make pumps for both espresso machines and post-mix equipment and they recently introduced a line of pumps that meet the new “Lead-Free” requirements.       

Another area that will cause some trepidation has to do with repairs and refurbishment.  For example a plumbed-in espresso machine that needs service can be repaired with parts that may or may not meet the “Lead-Free” requirements as long as it is used in the same location and application.  However, if the espresso machine is removed from service as a trade-in or for some other reason and it is refurbished for sale to another customer it must be made to meet the “Lead-Free” requirements.

OptiPure offers water filter and treatment systems that are NSF certified to meet the “Lead-Free” requirements for Ice Machines, Espresso Machines, Coffee and Tea Brewers and Post-Mix Beverage Dispensers.  All of the brass components used by OptiPure for potable drinking water treatment systems are “Lead-Free”.

For more detailed information about the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act go the following links:

To review the UP EPA’s summary and FAQs visit:   http://water.epa.gov/drink/info/lead/upload/epa815s13001.pdf

Get the Lead Out Plumbing Consortium Info: http://www.gettheleadoutplumbing.com/FAQ.asp

EPA Information Handout:  http://nepis.epa.gov/Exe/ZyPDF.cgi?Dockey=P100GRDZ.txt

Read the full Amendment here:  http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-111s3874enr/pdf/BILLS-111s3874enr.pdf

NSF Lead-Free Info: http://www.nsf.org/newsroom/nsf-international-supports-new-lead-free-definition-regulations-plumbing

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