On June 19,1986, Congress enacted the Safe
     Drinking Water Act Amendments of 1986 (P.L.
     99-339). Two key sections of this law consti-
     tute the "lead ban." The provisions of these
     sections are as follows:

     Section 1417 (which amends the Safe Drinking
     Water Act (SDWA)):
     • Prohibition on use of pipe, solder, or flux in
       public water systems that is not "lead free";
     • Special public notice requirements for lead;
     • State enforcement of prohibition and special
       public notice for lead; and

     • Definition of "lead free" materials.

     Section 109 (which does not amend SDWA):
     • Ban on lead water pipes, solder, and flux in
       Veterans' Administration and Department
       of Housing and Urban Development
       insured or assisted property;
     • Designation of lead solder as a hazardous
       substance when solder contains more 0.2
       percent lead; and
     • Requirements for warning labels on lead

    Most people understand that the consumption
    of lead can be very dangerous. Unfortunately,
    lead is present in many places — in air, food,
    dust, dirt, and in drinking water. Studies have
    shown that we receive an average of 15 to 20
    percent of our total lead intake from drinking
    water. Studies also show that the primary
    source of lead in drinking water is not from the
    main public water source — that is, the lake,
    river, reservoir, or well — but rather, the lead
    comes from our own plumbing and plumbing
 All people are susceptible to the dangers of lead
 contamination, but especially children.
 Children are particularly sensitive because their
 bodies are still developing and they absorb and
 retain more lead than adults. Even at very low
 levels of lead exposure, children can experience
 reduced I.Q. levels, impaired learning and
 language skills, loss of hearing, and reduced
 attention spans and poor classroom perform-
 ance. At higher levels, lead can cause damage to
 the brain and central nervous system, interfering
 with both learning and physical growth.
 Women of child-bearing age are also at risk.
 Lead can cause impaired development of the
 fetus, premature births, and reduced birth
 weights, as well as fertility problems and
 miscarriages. Men are at risk of increased blood
 pressure from exposure to too much lead.

 LEAD BAN?         	

 The lead ban affects all public water systems
 and virtually every citizen. The following
 sections explain how particular aspects of the
 lead ban affect a wide variety of people.

 The law states that only "lead free" pipe, solder,
 or flux may be used in the installation or repair
 of (1) public water systems, or (2) any plumbing
 in a residential or non-residential facility provid-
 ing water for human consumption, which is
 connected to a public water system.

 Thus, not only all public water systems, but
 anyone else that intends to install or repair
 drinking water plumbing that is connected to a
 public water system — including plumbers,
 contractors, and private homeowners — must
 use "lead free" materials. The term "lead free"
 means that solders and flux may not contain
 more than 0.2 percent lead, and that pipes and
 pipe fittings  may not contain more than 8.0
 percent lead.
This prohibition was effective on June 19,1986.

    The law also requires that each public water
    system identify and notify persons that may be
    affected by lead contamination of their drinking
    water. This notice was intended to inform the
    public about the possibility of lead contamina-
    tion due either to (1) the lead content in the
    construction materials of their public water
    distribution systems, or (2) if a water supply is
    corrosive enough to cause the leaching of lead
    from plumbing materials.

    Congress established the public notice require-
    ment because regulation of the public water
    systems alone cannot solve the lead problem.
    Public education (i.e., the notice) is also needed,
    because even if the public water system does all
    it can to reduce lead levels, drinking water may
    still be contaminated by lead from household
    plumbing or plumbing fixtures.

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
    was made responsible for developing the
    manner and form of this notice. EPA published
    the requirements and details of the special
    public notice for lead in the Federal Register on
    October 28,1987 (52 FR 41534).

    As required by the law, the lead notices must
    provide a dear and readily understandable
    explanation of:
    • Potential sources of lead in drinking water;
    • Potential adverse health effects;
    • Reasonably available methods of mitigating
       known or potential lead content in drinking
    • Any steps the public water system is taking
       to mitigate lead content in drinking water;
    • The necessity of seeking alternative water
       supplies, if any.

    The notice should have appeared already, either
    in your local newspaper, \vith your water bill, or
    in the mail. If your place of employment has its
    own drinking water supply (that is, if it is by
definition and regulation a "public water
system"), then you should have received some
form of the notice at work as well.
All public water systems were required to
provide notice beginning no later than June

The states are required to enforce both the
general prohibition on lead materials and the
public notice requirements for water suppliers.
States must enforce the lead ban through state
or local plumbing codes, or by such other
means of enforcement that the states determine
to be appropriate. States must enforce the
public notice requirement. The first step in
this process is usually for the state to request
the public water systems to submit proof that
the notice has been released.
Both the lead ban and the public notice
requirements were to be enforced in all states
beginning no later than June 19,1988. If the
state does not enforce these two requirements,
the EPA may withhold up to 5 percent of
Federal grant funds available to that state for
its State Public Water System Supervision

The lead ban also affects potential home
buyers. The law prohibits the Department of
Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and
the Veterans' Administration (VA) from insur-
ing or guaranteeing a mortgage, or from
furnishing assistance for a newly constructed
residence, unless the new residence has a
potable water system  that has "lead free" pipe,
solder, and flux.
This prohibition was effective on June  19,

Manufacturers, distributors, and sellers of lead
plumbing materials are also affected by the lead
ban. The law amended two sections of the
Federal Hazardous Substances Act.

First, the law was amended to state that any
solder with a lead content greater than 0.2
percent is a hazardous substance. Second, it
now requires that any lead  solder, which is not
"lead free" and which is introduced or deliv-
ered for introduction into interstate commerce,
must prominently display a warning label.
The label must state the lead content of the
solder and must warn that the use of such
solder in the making of joints or fittings in any
private or public potable water supply system
is prohibited.
This requirement was effective on June 19,

IF your home or apartment was built, or if
your plumbing was repaired after June 19,
1986, only materials that are "lead free" should
have been used.

• FIRST check your plumbing. Lead is a dull-
   gray metal that is soft enough to be easily
   scratched with a housekey. Also, look for
   copper pipes; lead solder is commonly used
   with copper piping, but a special test kit is
   necessary to prove if the solder used
   contains lead.
• SECOND, if you determine or suspect that
   lead was used, report the violation to the
   state and local enforcement agencies. Your
   state drinking water program is usually
   located in the state capital (or another major
   city), and is often part of the Department of
   Health or Environmental Regulation!.
   Consult the blue pages of your local phone
   book for the proper address and phone
   number. If you need further assistance
   locating your State public water system
   official, contact EPA's Safe Drinking Water
   Hotline.  Also, contact the builder, contrac-
   tor, or plumber immediately and request
   that they remedy the situation.
• THIRD, get your tapwater tested. Locate a
   certified laboratory in your area and be
   sure to follow the proper EPA testing
   protocol. The protocol is available from the
   Safe Drinking Water Hotline or the states,
   A list of state certified laboratories can be
   obtained from your state's laboratory certi-
   fication officer. The Safe Drinking Water
   Hotline can provide you with the name,
   address, and phone number of your lab
   certification officer.
• FOURTH, if you need legal assistance
   regarding the enforcement of the lead ban,
   contact your state drinking water program
   and/or an attorney
• FINALLY, until you are certain that you do
   not have a problem, flush your taps before
   use and only use the COLD tap for drinking
   and cooking.  In order to conserve water,
   you may want to use the flushed water for
   other household uses, such as washing
   dishes or watering plants. You may also
   want to keep a bottle or jug of flushed water
   in your refrigerator for drinking and
   cooking; this will help reduce the amount of

IF your home or apartment was built, or if
your plumbing was repaired before June 19,
1986, lead materials may have been used. Even
though the materials were legally installed,
they may present a hazard to your health,
particularly in buildings that are less than five
years old.  Studies have shown that lead in
solder tends to leach out at the highest levels
during the first five years after installation of
the pipe.

• FIRST, check your plumbing (as above).
• SECOND, if you determine or suspect that
   lead was used, get your tapwater tested by
   a competent laboratory (as above). The
   results may indicate that some type of
   remediation is necessary.
• FINALLY, until you are certain that you do
   not have a problem, flush your taps before
   use and only use the COLD tap for drinking
   and cooking (as above).
IF you intend to repair your plumbing (that
is, plumbing that supplies drinking water),
read the label on the materials to ensure they
are "lead free."


For more information on the lead ban and on
the overall problem with lead contamination
of drinking water, you may want to obtain the
Lead and Your Drinking Water. Available from:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office
of Drinking Water, 401M Street, SW, Wash-
ington, DC, 20460; or call the Safe Drinking
Water Hotline at (800) 426-4791 or (202) 382-
The Lead Solder Ban: Its Effect on the Plumbing
Industry. Available from: National Associa-
tion of Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling
Contractors (NAPHCC) Educational Founda-
tion, 180 S. Washington Street, Suite 50, Falls
Church, Va, 22046; or call at (800) 533-7694 or
(703) 237-8100.
Lead in School Drinking Water. (GPO-055-000-
00281-9) Available for $3.25. Send check or
money order to: Superintendent of Docu-
ments, U.S. Government Printing Office,
Washington, DC, 20460; or order by calling
(202) 783-3238.
For specific information on the Safe Drinking
Water Act, the lead ban, the special public
lead notice, or other regulatory and policy
issues, write:
     U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
     Office of Drinking Water
     401M Street, SW
     Washington, DC 20460
Or call: The Safe Drinking Water Hotline
      800-426-4791 or 202-382-5533

           United States
           Environmental Protection
                                                                     August 1989

                                                                  EPA 57Q/9-89-BBB
            Office of Water (4601)
vvEPA  The  Lead  Ban:

            Preventing the
            Use  of Lead  in
            Public Water
            Systems  and
            Plumbing Used
            for Drinking
                                                             Printed on Recycled Paper I