Imports of Plumbing Products
Summary of Regulations
This web page provides a summary of the United States regulations that limit the amount of lead in plumbing products. The information is provided for foreign manufacturers and importers who want to import plumbing products into the United States.
The United States is very concerned about lead entering drinking water because of the health effects it causes. Too much lead in the human body can cause serious damage to the brain, kidneys, nervous system, and red blood cells. Young people and pregnant women are at the greatest risk. Plumbing products are a potential source of lead in drinking water. Through the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for developing regulations that restrict the amount of lead in plumbing products.
Summary of Regulations
The Safe Water Drinking Act (SDWA) requires that “lead free” plumbing fixtures (including faucets), fittings, solder, flux, pipes, and pipe fittings be used in public water systems and in plumbing that carries water for human consumption in residential and non-residential facilities. .
The SDWA makes it unlawful for any person to import for sale in the U.S. the plumbing items listed above if they are not lead free (see 40 CFR 141.43). Under this rule, “lead free” is defined as:
- Solders and flux that do not contain more than 0.2 percent lead;
- Pipes and pipe fittings that do not contain more than 8 percent lead; and
- Plumbing fittings and fixtures (including faucets) that are tested and certified in compliance with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI)/National Sanitation Foundation International (NSF) Standard 61, Section 9.
In addition to federal regulations, states may also have rules limiting the amount of lead in plumbing products, which may be more stringent than EPA’s regulations. Most significantly, in 2007 California passed AB 1953, a law that requires all faucets sold in the state after January 1, 2010, to contain no more than 0.25 percent lead.
EPA is coordinating with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to identify imports that violate U.S. standards and working with environmental and law enforcement agencies to share information about noncompliant or suspect imports.
Additionally in 2008, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) established its Import Surveillance Division, representing the first permanent, full-time presence of CPSC personnel at key U.S. ports-of-entry, including the nation’s busiest ports. These personnel are specifically trained in import surveillance procedures and the rapid identification of defective and non-complying consumer products.
EPA Safe Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791.
EPA’s Safe Water Drinking Act home page.
Commonly Asked Questions: Section 1417 of the Safe Drinking Water Act and the NSF Standard
American National Standards Institute (ANSI)/National Sanitation Foundation International (NSF) Standard 61 Fact Sheet