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California bill would sharply reduce lead leaching from faucets

  • California bill would sharply reduce lead leaching from faucets

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California state legislation introduced would set a legally enforceable limit on the amount of lead leaching from drinking water faucets and fixtures, reducing by five times the amount now allowed by a plumbing industry standard. Assembly Bill 100, by Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), would restrict the amount of lead leaching from faucets and fixtures to no more than 1 microgram.

No federal or state laws explicitly limit the amount of lead that may leach from drinking water faucets and fixtures sold in California. The industry standard was recently revised to prohibit faucets certified beginning January 1, 2024, from leaching more than 1 microgram of lead on average, but still allows faucets certified before 2024 to be sold. Holden’s bill, however, would require that all faucets sold in California meet the lower standard beginning on January 1, 2022.

“We all expect the water we drink will keep us and our children healthy, and not make us sick,” said Holden. “This legislation ensures that faucets and plumbing fixtures sold in California leach as little lead as possible.”

Susan Little, EWG’s senior advocate for California government affairs, said lead is a severe neurotoxin that can cause permanent brain damage, especially in children, who absorb half of the lead they ingest.

“It makes no sense that faucets sold in California aren’t legally prevented from leaching significant amounts of lead into drinking water,” said Little. “This bill will make sure that California residents, schools and child care centers will be able to find the more health-protective faucets on store shelves by the end of next year.”

“Californians shouldn't have to research faucet safety in order to protect their families,” said Andria Ventura, policy director at Clean Water Action. “They should be guaranteed that the faucets they buy or are installed in their homes, schools and businesses reduce the amount of lead in their drinking water to the optimum level.”

Last year, Holden authored a prior version of the bill, which was passed by the Assembly before being held by the Senate Appropriations Committee. In 2018, he also authored another bill, which was signed into law, that requires licensed child care centers to test their drinking water for lead contamination.

California has led the nation with new laws to protect public health. In the past two years, Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed into law new or stricter public health and safety standards for cosmetics, jewelry, firefighting foam, and worker and child lead-poisoning prevention.

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