Safer Products

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Testing for Lead in California Drinking Water Plumbing Products


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 law effective January 2009 to protect members of the public from exposure to lead in drinking water. The law reduces the amount of lead allowed in plumbing components intended to convey or dispense water for human consumption.

The following reports provide additional information on this subject, including protocols for DTSC’s testing and evaluation of lead content in the drinking water plumbing product samples.


DTSC’s Role

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

  1. Annually select no more than 75 potable water faucets, or other potable water pipes or plumbing fittings, or fixtures for testing and evaluation, based on DTSC’s available resources and staffing;
  2. Acquire samples of the selected faucets, pipes, fittings, and fixtures from locations that are readily accessible to the public at either retail or wholesale sources;
  3. Use test methods, protocols, and sample preparation procedures that are adequate to determine the total lead concentration in a potable water plumbing fitting or fixture to determine compliance with the standards for maximum allowable total lead content in Health and Safety Code Section 116875; and
  4. Post test results on DTSC’s Internet Web site and transmit results in an annual report to the Division of Drinking Water of the State Water Resources Control Board, successor to the California Department of Public Health for the purpose of receiving this report.