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Lead-Free Brass Fittings, Pipe, & Valves for Potable (Drinking & Cooking) Water Systems in Canada or USA

As of January 2014, brass fittings, pipe, and valves containing lead in excess of 0.25% (with respect to wetted or contact surface) will no longer be permitted for use in potable (drinking and cooking) water systems in Canada or the USA.  This law applies only to products used to transfer water in systems which are directly for human consumption; it does NOT apply to any other application. Examples where it does not apply:  industrial water supply for manufacturing, irrigation, outdoor watering, washdown, and any other media such as air, fuel, gas, chemicals, etc. 

Do lead free brass fittings cost more or less?

Lead free brass fittings typically cost 25-50% more in price due to different manufacturing or processing methods, more expensive raw materials/alloys, and distribution logistics; therefore New-Line has created separate part numbers for those particular fittings that are identified for use in potable water applications.  Not “all” brass fittings or valves in our product lineup will be available in a lead free option at this time due to manufacturing options or minimum order quantities; however over time more part numbers and configurations will be added based on demand specifically for potable water applications. 

How to Identify New-Line No Lead products?

At this time there is no regulated, industry standard method of indicating which brass products are lead free.  Depending on its source of manufacture and the physical size of the part, New-Line will identify such products with a prominent label, tag, or small logo such as LF; some manufacturers are also using “NL” as a logo, however such a logo must not be confused with our corporate logo.  Our “lead free brass” part numbers will typically have a LF or BL suffix, and our item descriptions will clearly indicate “lead free”.

Will old inventory become obsolete?

If the component is used solely for processing water that will be used for human consumption and is not within the lead tolerance, then the legislation would mean such inventory is indeed obsolete and must not be used in potable water systems.  New-Line is unable to return such parts to the manufacturer.

Are lead free brass parts installed in the same manner?

Not necessarily.  Lead free brass is in theory “harder” and, in turn, can also be more brittle.  To prevent cracking, extra care should be taken not to over-tighten lead-free parts.  Cracks due to over-tightening are not covered under warranty or manufacturer defect.

Are other metals or materials in potable water systems affected with this legislation?

Products that are constructed of Teflon or food grade PVC, CPVC, nylon, and thermoplastic blends are inherently lead free and compliant and such products may become more common in certain potable water applications due to cost or availability of comparable brass configurations.  As for stainless steel, most is inherently lead free and compliant, however special attention is required as some products may contain lead and should be investigated for proper compliance.  If a particular part #, size, or application traditionally included “brass”, keep in mind there may be other materials which are perfectly suitable for the application (ie. nylon, stainless steel, PVC, etc) rather than creating a “lead free brass” part.

What does the legislation actually say about “lead free”?

Lead free means not more than a weighted average of 0.25 percent lead with respect to the wetted surfaces of pipes and pipe fittings, plumbing fittings, valves, and fixtures etc. that are intended to convey or dispense water for human consumption through drinking or cooking.  In traditional brass components, over time small amounts of lead could enter the water through general corrosion and degradation.  For further information on the new Canadian legislation, refer to ASME A112.18.1/CSA N125.1 and CSA B125.3 (amended December 2012) standards for Plumbing fittings and in accordance with the test method specified in NSF/ANSI 372 & NSF 61.  In the USA, refer to Federal Law 111-380, entitled “Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act”, amends the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA).