California Lead Bill Passes House, But Confusion Reigns
Shortly after its passage, the California Senate amended the bill in response to various misrepresentations that came to light after House passage. As of this writing the bill was in suspension while California Assembly members evaluate the new information. The Senate may choose to vote on its amended bill in August. If it passes, the amended bill would have to be re-voted upon by the House.
The bill has been challenged by the Plumbing Manufacturers Institute (PMI), NSF, the Copper Development Association (CDA), and Non-Ferrous Founders' Society (NFFS), whose members include brass and bronze ingot manufacturers that supply most of the alloyed ingot to the plumbing manufacturing industry.
Objections were raised about a number of issues, the most striking of which is misinformation supplied by proponents of AB 1953 that led California lawmakers to believe faucets of various plumbing manufacturers already would comply with the new law. Top executives from Chicago Faucets, T&S Brass and Central Brass - whose products were cited as in compliance - all sent letters to the bill's author, Wilma Chan, assuring her this was not the case.
“AB 1953 proposes an unprecedented, artificially low standard that would prohibit virtually all faucets, valves and backflow preventers currently on the market,” wrote a CDA spokesman to an Assembly member. Opponents doubted the feasibility of meeting the 0.25 percent requirements using any known technology.
Other points of contention include:
The most scathing denouncement came from NFFS Executive Director James Mallory, who wrote to an Assembly member: “NFFS and its members are concerned at the appalling lack of scientific evidence and expertise supporting Assembly Bill 1953 … We are equally appalled by the cavalier 'don't confuse us with your facts' (his italics) attitude evidenced by supporters of the bill.”
Supporters were led by a lobbyist from the water utility industry, and a group called the California Metals Coalition (CMC), whose letter of support came “at the eleventh hour in direct contravention of the expressed wishes of its members,” according to Mallory. PMI advised that most of CMC's members do not manufacture potable water devices, and those that do are opposed to AB 1953.
Opponents of the bill urged the California Assembly to instead recognize the federally approved NSF/ANSI Standard 61 to resolve any issues regarding the safety of drinking water system components. “The regulatory framework already exists within the California Plumbing Code that currently requires products to comply with NSF-61,” stated an NSF position paper on AB 1953.