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What the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Means for Manufacturers
The Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan
It is well known that lead exposure has negative health effects on the human body, including brain and organ damage. According to the White House, up to 10 million U.S. households utilize lead pipes and service lines for water access, and 400,000 schools and childcare facilities have lead exposure risk in their water. In an effort to reduce lead levels in drinking water across the United States, the Biden-Harris administration released the Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan in December 2021. With this plan, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has allocated $3 billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding for lead service line replacement to states, tribes and territories, prioritizing underserved communities in 2022.
With the goal of giving everyone in the country access to clean drinking water straight from their tap, the president’s 10-year plan includes funding for a range of activities, such as lead service line replacement by the EPA, remediation grants for water infrastructure improvements and lead pipe replacement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Funding will also go to the removal of lead-based paint, faucets and fixtures in low-income households, as well as the replacement of lead pipes and privately owned service lines.
What This Means for Manufacturers
The infrastructure plan will not only help provide communities with access to clean drinking water but will also create job opportunities for those who will contribute to the infrastructure replacement project. Most commonly, the lead service lines are being replaced with copper, polyethylene (PE), crosslinked polyethylene (PEX) or polyvinyl chloride (PVC). The infrastructure plan provides many opportunities for manufacturers, especially those that produce these materials. To ensure that the replacement materials will not contribute harmful levels of contaminants to drinking water, state drinking water regulations and local plumbing codes require pipes and fittings conveying drinking water to be certified to NSF standards.
NSF Certification Required
NSF certification for lead plays a strong role in supporting the infrastructure plan of replacing lead pipes across the country. State and local regulations require all replacement materials to meet NSF standards for the appropriate categories the products fall under. The standards address the following issues:
NSF/ANSI/CAN 372: Drinking Water System Components – Lead Content
Establishes a maximum 0.25% lead requirement that applies to any pipe, pipe or plumbing fitting, or fixture intended to convey or dispense water for human consumption through drinking or cooking.
NSF/ANSI/CAN 61: Drinking Water System Components – Health Effects
Establishes minimum requirements for the control of any potential adverse human health effects from products that contact drinking water. The standard includes testing to ensure that components will not contribute harmful levels of contaminants (not only lead) to the drinking water. It addresses all material types used for drinking water applications. NSF/ANSI/CAN 61 also requires lead content to conform to NSF/ANSI/CAN 372.
NSF/ANSI 14: Plastics Piping System Components and Related Materials
Establishes the minimum physical performance requirements for plastics piping system components and related materials. It also calls for potable water products to meet the health effects requirements of NSF/ANSI/CAN 61.
These standards help provide assurance that the products replacing the lead pipes are not harmful to human health and are reliable as well. Pipes and fittings that meet the requirements will bear an NSF-61 or NSF-pw (potable water) mark indicating that they meet the health effects requirements of NSF/ANSI/CAN 61 and the performance requirements of NSF/ANSI 14 and NSF/ANSI 372. NSF is proud to be certifying products for such an important project that impacts everyone in the United States.
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The White House. (2021. December 16). FACT SHEET: The Biden-Harris Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan. Retrieved from: www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/12/16/fact-sheet-the-biden-harris-lead-pipe-and-paint-action-plan/#:~:text=Announcing%20%242.9%20billion%20from%20the,service%20line%20replacement%20in%202022.