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California enacts nation’s strictest limit on lead leaching from faucets

  • California enacts nation’s strictest limit on lead leaching from faucets

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On Friday 8 October, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a measure establishing the strictest lead-leaching limit in the country for drinking water faucets, ensuring faucets and fixtures will be practically lead-free.

“We thank Gov. Newsom for making certain that all Californians are protected from lead-leaching faucets,” said Susan Little, EWG's senior advocate for California government affairs. “By signing AB 100 into law, the governor has shown that safeguarding our health from toxic lead exposure is a priority.”

The legislation, authored by Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), requires all faucets and fixtures with potable water sold in California beginning in 2023 to leach no more than one microgram of lead – five times less lead than the current industry certification standard allows.

The bill passed the California legislature in a unanimous and bipartisan vote.

“I’m devoted to protecting children from exposure to lead. It is unacceptable that our kids are still exposed to lead in the drinking water served in our schools and childcare centers," said Holden. “I’m proud that California is once again leading the nation by requiring all water faucets and fixtures to become essentially lead-free and keeping our children as safe as possible.”

Lead is a neurotoxin that can cause permanent brain damage, and children absorb half of the lead they ingest. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there is no safe level of lead exposure in drinking water for children. Nobody, especially small children and pregnant women, should ingest any amount of lead.

California launched a child care drinking water testing program in an effort to reduce children’s exposure to lead. The program, which was mandated by an earlier EWG-sponsored bill also authored by Holden, requires licensed child care centers to test their drinking water for lead, and to reduce lead levels if the neurotoxin is found.

The availability of more health-protective faucets under the new law will help the state meet its goal of eliminating all lead from drinking water at child care centers. 

Schools from kindergarten through 12th grade, which have already conducted limited tests of drinking water, will also benefit from faucets that leach less lead.

“Californians want to drink lead-free water, and they want to protect their children from lead exposure,” said Little. “This new law will ensure that California schools and child care centers can purchase faucets and plumbing fixtures that leach as little lead as possible – as soon as possible.”

The law was cosponsored by EWG, CalPIRG and Clean Water Action. 

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