The Plumbing Manufacturers Institute’s Fall Meeting, Oct. 7-11, in Arlington, Va., welcomed plumbing industry guests from Great Britain, Canada and Australia, who discussed their nations’ water conservation efforts. The meeting even featured a memorandum of understanding signed by PMI and the Australia-based Plumbing Products Industry Group in which the two trade associations pledged to share information on educational, technical, scientific, legislative and regulatory matters.

Yet, a visit from a representative of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency clearly signaled that not everyone in the international plumbing community is on the same page.

“We have reason to believe that faucets imported from China, and other nations, may contain lead in excess of levels that violate the Safe Drinking Water Act,” said Caroline Hermann of EPA’s Office of Civil Enforcement. “Testing is going on now. EPA is asking U.S. manufacturers to help identify faucets that may violate SDWA.”

Increasing numbers of imported products, and recalls of contaminated and defective products from China and elsewhere, have prompted EPA’s focus on lead in faucets, Hermann said. EPA has adopted NSF 61, Section 9, as the voluntary standard that it applies to both domestic and imported faucets. If more than 11 parts per billion of the lead leaches into the water in the 20-day testing period, the faucet violates SDWA, Hermann said.

EPA is one of 11 U.S. governmental agencies in an inter-agency working group that was formed by an executive order July 18 to conduct a comprehensive review of import safety practices and determine where improvements can be made. The group planned to deliver its action plan to the White House in mid-November.

“EPA needs your help to identify faucets that violate SDWA,” Hermann told PMI members.

EPA has created a tip line where people can report violations: