Lead-Free Leads The Way



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The U.S. Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) bill was signed into law in 2011 limiting the lead content to 0.25% maximum for products in contact with drinking water.

The items in question include (but are not limited to) pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings, instrumentation and fixtures.  The law took effect on Jan. 4, 2014, making it illegal for service providers to install and manufacturers to sell products that do not meet the new lead-free content law.  Every new installation for the residential, commercial or industrial market falls under the legislation.

In order to meet this new law, Winters Instruments introduced a complete line of pressure gauges, thermometers and accessories with brass-wetted parts containing less than 0.25% lead and solder with less than 0.20% lead.  This means that the Winters pressure gauge socket, the bourdon tube, all soldered components, the thermometer thermowell and the valve body or snubber (where required) are manufactured with less than 0.25% or 0.20% of lead content.  This prevents any significant amount of lead from transferring from the instrumentation to your drinking water.  Stainless steel is another acceptable solution, but lead-free brass is much cost effective.

Lead has been a common additive in metal products for years.  Its unique properties make the metal more pliable in the manufacturing process and durable as an end product.  Because of these benefits, 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 people’s health.

Over the years, pipes, fittings and fixtures have been the main focus of lead-free conversations and unfortunately instrumentation has been overlooked.  However, every component in a  drinking water system must be properly specified in order to maintain the integrity of the drinking water supply.  Pressure gauges and thermometers are used in most systems and it is important for them to be compliant as well.

Instead of doubling inventory, many wholesalers and distributors have opted to standardize on Winters lead-free instrumentation because they are suitable for both standard and drinking water applications.  The pressure rating, temperature range, media compatibility and life cycles are not affected by the reduced lead content, thus making lead-free products usable on all applications.  A strong case should be made to ensure it is the norm not only in the plumbing market but in all commercial and industrial markets.

Look for the green leaf symbol on the Winters pressure gauge dial and lead-free stamping on thermowells or accessories indicating compliance with the SDWA.  For recognition, a typical pressure gauge part number would be followed by “LF” (e.g. PCT324LF).

As more new buildings are being constructed, more and more lead-free components will be required for the drinking water systems.  Make sure the right products are specified and used to ensure full compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act.