Science Inventory

Identifying and Solving Lead Issues from Water Systems with Materials/Device Replacement in Schools and other Buildings


Schock, M. AND M. Latham. Identifying and Solving Lead Issues from Water Systems with Materials/Device Replacement in Schools and other Buildings. Presented at Ohio AWWA Conference, Cleveland, OH, September 15 - 18, 2015.


To inform the public.


Identifying and assessing lead contamination and exposure potential in single-family residences is difficult enough, but doing the same kind of assessment and remediation in buildings, schools, and day care centers is even more challenging. It is of particular importance because of the absence of a threshold lead concentration for adverse health effects, as well as the elevated risk to infants and children. Wide variations of seasonal and diurnal water usage patterns, relatively low total water flow, and complex small-diameter piping networks having multiple lead-containing devices located in series in line and at multiple consumption endpoints, combine to make addressing lead contamination in building systems highly challenging. There is rarely, if ever, a “representative” sampling tap. When needed in large quantities (think “Gatorade” barrel cooler), drinking water may also be obtained from unexpected and rarely-tested locations.Adding corrosion inhibitors or corrosion-reducing chemicals to the on-site or campus water supply is less simple than it seems. The water usage pattern may not be consistent enough for chemical inhibition to be effective. Initiating chemical treatment requires capital and, essentially, perpetual O&M funding, as well as potential state monitoring and reporting requirements and related workplace safety issues.The first half of this presentation will be devoted to the nature of lead and copper occurrence and relationships to water quality and use, followed by sampling strategies to identify and isolate the occurrence of leaded materials in building water drinking water system configurations, and a discussion of the regulatory, monitoring and implementation issues surrounding chemical treatment. But there is a better way—a more sustainable, convenient, and less operationally-intensive approach: replacement of the leaded materials to eliminate the need for treatment.For the second half of this presentation, an EPA developed tool to help consumers identify lead free certified products will be discussed. On January 4, 2014, the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act went into effect. The Act has reduced the lead content allowed in water system and plumbing products by changing the definition of lead free in Section 1417 of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) from not more than 8% lead content to not more than a weighted average of 0.25% lead with respect to the wetted surfaces of pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings, and plumbing fixtures. If they are not lead free, the SDWA prohibits the use of these products in the installation or repair of any public water system or facility providing water for human consumption. It also makes it unlawful to introduce them into commerce. This includes stocked inventories and coated or uncoated brass or bronze products. As of March 2015, there is no mandatory federal requirement for lead free product testing or third-party certification under the SDWA. However, consumers can increase their level of confidence by purchasing products that have been certified as meeting the lead free requirement of the SDWA.

URLs/Downloads:   Exit

Record Details:

Product Published Date: 09/18/2015
Record Last Revised: 01/14/2016
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 310859