You Down With AB1953?

      December 26th, 2009

AeratorsI realize I’ve reached a new low low in terms of lame titles, but wanted to briefly discuss Assembly Bill 1953. Beginning in 2010, the bill requires all potable water pipes and fixtures to be lead free*. Oh yes, the lovely asterisk. I stumbled upon this little doozy while hunched over at my local Home Depot looking for new aerators for every faucet in my house.

The situation was actually a bit funny because Home Depot had gotten me in this mess to begin with. They’ve coupled with a local RainSoft dealer and hidden their DIY water softeners way in a back corner somewhere. Long story short, I made the horrible mistake of having RainSoft/Home Depot install a whole house water filtration system. It has been a total nightmare with such highlights as soldering flux firing out of my kitchen faucet, several bathfuls of black water, a tub which required lengthy cleaning sessions to partially remove black/brown residue, ongoing cleanup of wherever the incompetent RainSoft installer worked. I have much much more to say on this topic, but will have to write about it another time. Oh RainSoft, you have had not heard the last of me.

But I digress…. So there I was in Home Depot trying to buy five aerators. Their selection was pretty sparse (perhaps because of the upcoming law), but I managed to find a Neoperl product which seemed to fit the bill. And there it was in big capital letters: “LEAD FREE*”. This perplexed me a great deal given that a few millimeters above this claim stood: “Ultra low lead”.

I tried to wrap my head around “LEAD FREE*” vs. “Ultra low lead”. How could something lead free have ultra low lead? On the back they described the asterisk in flowery, blooming English: “*AB 1953 compliant less than 0.2% lead.” Wouldn’t you love if everything was described this way? “Traffic ticket you drive too fast.” “Delicious food ate at fancy restaurant.” And so on…

Now having looked into the Assembly Bill a bit, it appears the powers that be are redefining the meaning of lead free. In other words, they are lowering the value considered lead free. After doing a little research, I found that the legal limit for lead in related products used to be 8%. To me, .2% doesn’t seem that low, and 8% seems incredibly high. Given all the really scary stuff written about lead (and I have a two-year-old, people!), I would kind of prefer lead free to mean 0% lead. Is it that hard to make a metal product that contains no lead?

To further my confusion, another, simpler model of aerator, also made by Neoperl, states “LEAD FREE*”, but not “Ultra low lead”. So, does this mean this one is pushing the 0.2% lead content?

Now, I know what you’re saying: “Dude, why didn’t you just buy an aerator from another company claiming 0% lead?” There were none. Home Depot (or “The Home Depot” as I think they like being called now) only had these in stock.

If anyone has a suggestion for eco-friendly aerators without any lead (no asterisk), feel free to comment. Even though they say “there is no safe level of lead”, I guess AB 1953 is a step in the right direction. If it were me, and I know this would probably cause minor economic mayhem or piss off the lead lobby, I would just take a hatchet to it and make lead free actually lead free. 0%. Done.

P.S. Please also comment if you have more RainSoft horror stories.

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Filed under: Environment, Home Equipment, Safety by A.B.

2 Responses to “You Down With AB1953?”

  1. The 0.25% wasn’t because the the plumbing companies hate the environment. Brass with 0% lead cannot be machined or cast & shaved (too brittle). Using 100% copper for valves and fitting would be too soft and would warp out of shape after awhile.

  2. …and why doesn’t the state ban lead weights (sinkers) for fishing? There has to be literally THOUSANDS OF POUNDS of fishing weight lead in the bottom of the lakes we pull our drinking water out of. 8% lead hasn’t been legal since 1980. 4% has been & is the current Federal limit since then.

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