Lead In Plumbing

Lead in Plumbing Introduction

Plumbing products may be leaching lead into drinking water. Lead can be harmful to humans. Exposure to lead can cause serious adverse health effects, including delays in physical and mental development.

The amount of lead leached into drinking water from plumbing products depends on a number of factors -  the amount of lead  in the plumbing parts, how large an area of a lead-containing part comes into contact with the water, how long the water is in contact with the lead-containing surface, and the corrosiveness of the water.

California enacted laws in January 2009 that increase public protection from exposure to lead in drinking water. The laws reduce the amount of lead allowed in plumbing components intended to convey or dispense water for human consumption.

DTSC’s February 2009 fact sheet provides detailed information on this issue. Protocols for DTSC’s testing and evaluation of lead content in product samples acquired from retail and wholesale sources are listed in DTSC's August 2009 fact sheet.

Click the image below to view the 2011 Annual Report.

Lead in Plumbing 2011 Annual Report

Click here to view the 2010 Report.

DTSC's Role

DTSC’s role in implementing the portions of the legislation related to sampling and testing consists of:

  1. Evaluating and selecting reliable and adequate test methods, protocols and sample preparation procedures;
  2. Coordinating with the plumbing manufacturing industry and providing information on testing protocols;
  3. Annually testing, to the extent that resources are available, up to 75 faucet, fitting, and/or fixtures samples to determine compliance with "lead-free" standards;
  4. Posting the testing results on DTSC's Web site and transmitting them to the California Department of Public Health (DPH); and
  5. Coordinating with DPH on regulatory issues.


The Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) conducts monitoring and testing of lead content in plumbing products.  Based on resources available, DTSC annually selects up to 75 drinking water faucets, or other drinking water plumbing fittings and fixtures, for testing and evaluation using lead plumbing standards set forth in Health and Safety Code (HSC) Section 116875. 

DTSC acquires the plumbing product samples from wholesale and retail locations that are readily accessible to the public. The testing and evaluation results are posted here on DTSC’s website annually, and transmitted to the California Department of Public Health.