Get The Lead Out – Lead Free Instrumentation


Making Drinking Water Safer


Food & Beverage Engineering  Maintenance – April 2014

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A recent amendment to the U.S. Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) is a clear signal that we should be considering our drinking water, as it plays a large part in the processing of our food and beverage products.

This past January an amendment to the SDWA took effect limiting the amount of lead content in components that come into contact with potable water.  The new amendment limits the lead content in components that are installed or retrofitted onto drinking water systems to 0.25%.  Components that comply with this lead limit are considered “lead free.”  While similar restrictions are not enforced in Canada, they are on the way.  It’s time for design engineers and contractors alike to start preparing.

Lead has been a common additive in metal products for years.  Its unique properties make a metal more pliable in the manufacturing stage and durable as an end product.  Because of these properties, it was used to manufacture countless products in a wide range of applications.  However, as its use increased, it became evident that high levels of lead exposure had negative consequences on peoples’ health.

Manufacturers in recent years have been eliminating it from their products and searching for safer alternatives that still provided them with the pliability and durability they required.  With the SDWA amendment, manufacturers worked diligently to develop lead-free fittings and instrumentation safer for use on potable water systems.

Winters' PCT-LF Lead Free Contractor Pressure Gauge

While lead-free materials such as stainless steel exist, the cost of these materials often makes them prohibitive for potable water systems compared to brass.  As a result, companies such as Winters Instruments worked to develop a comprehensive line of potable water safe pressure gauges, thermometers and instrument accessories with wetted parts made from lead-free brass.  Instrumentation utilizing the lead-free brass meets the 0.25% requirement for use on drinking water systems and is more cost-effective than stainless steel.

Companies in the U.S. had to wait for the industry to develop alternatives before the amendment took effect.  With a drinking water safe and affordable alternative to brass now available, Canadian food and beverage companies have more choice.  Access to the safer lead-free brass products currently mandated in the U.S. allows engineers and maintenance personnel in the Canadian food and beverage industry to proactively incorporate them into their current and future projects.