EPA Releases Update On Lead Reduction Act

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released updated information and an FAQ document on the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act, which takes effect in January 2014, and may impact a variety of commercial foodservice equipment hooked up to potable water. Congress enacted the RLDWA in January 2011 to amend Section 1417 of the Safe Drinking Water Act, which focuses on preventing the contamination of drinking water by lead that has leached from pipes, faucets and other fixtures incidental to the delivery of potable water.

The FAQ document addressing public comments and providing guidance on compliance is available here.

Among the changes is the definition of lead-free when used with respect to pipes and pipe fittings; previously, lead-free referred to pipes and pipe fittings containing not more than 8.0% lead, but that number has been adjusted. Effective Jan. 4, lead-free means not 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.

Manufacturers of potable devices, i.e., faucets and sprayers and hoses used in foodservice applications, are affected under the new guidelines. Both point-of-use and point-of-entry devices are covered by the lead-free requirements because these devices typically are integrated into a faucet or plumbing system that delivers drinking water. Because these devices may be designed to remove lead, the EPA assumes that some may already meet the lead content limit of 0.25%.

Manufacturers of stand-alone appliances that are not connected to a potable water distribution system, such as coffee makers or pour-through water filters are not necessarily required to meet the new definition of lead-free because they are not they are not plumbed in and they are not part of the drinking-water distribution system.

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