BY ROBERT P. MADER
Of CONTRACTOR’s staff
NORTH ANDOVER, MA. — Watts Water Technologies Inc. and its associated brands have introduced a number of products that meet lead-free laws in California and Vermont. Recent legislation in California and Vermont mandates the reduction of lead in pipes, fittings and fixtures used to convey water for drinking or cooking, to take effect Jan. 1, 2010. In addition to the products that Watts already manufactures that meet the lead-free requirements, Watts announced that it would also make available a complete line of lead-free products for sale by the middle of this year.
But in addition to providing products that meet the legislation, Watts has created what it hopes to be a “portal” Web site that covers all things lead-free.
Watts has launched the informational Web site, http://www.weareleadfree.net, which will provide frequent updates on what is happening around the country with lead free legislation and requirements. The Web site provides an interactive map showing the status of lead free initiatives nationwide, downloadable catalogs and educational material. The interactive map, for example, shows that lead-free legislation is under consideration in Maryland.
Watts manufactures products that meet the lead-free requirements under the trade names Watts, Ames Fire & Water Works, Dormont, FEBCO, Mueller Steam Specialties, Powers, Savard, Sea Tech and Watts Premier.
“Looking at the two states right now that have enacted legislation effective January 2010, for any product that is used for drinking or cooking the wetted surfaces have to be a low-lead material not to exceed 0.25% lead,” said Doug Deviney, vice president of marketing.
Deviney noted that the products that will meet the lead-free legislation are provided on the Web site and more are added each day as more products become available.
The Web site includes news, information on lead free legislation, a section on products and tools contractors will need to get started, and a “Leadology 101” section that provides a primer on the basics of lead and lead-free products. Contractors can order a lead-free information kit from the site. The Web site also includes a video from Harry Moos, director of educational partnerships for GreenplumbersUSA, explaining the California lead-free law. Moos is now the interim executive director of the California Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors.
“In California and Vermont, because not all of the products we manufacture are used for cooking and drinking, there are exemptions,” Deviney explained. “For example, if a backflow device is used on an irrigation system, that device is considered exempt from California or Vermont requirements because it is not used for cooking or drinking. But there are backflow preventers used in systems for cooking and drinking, so that must conform to the low-lead requirements for California and Vermont. So for those products where we offer both a standard alloy product and a lead-free product, the lead-free product will contain the prefix ‘LF.’ The product is not completely lead-free, but we stipulate that the wetted surface of the product that is contacted by consumable water is less than 0.25% lead, which is acceptable in the states of California and Vermont. The lead-free product will be identified with new lead-free packaging and colored labels to help customers differentiate. Additionally, both the valve and valve components used in lead-free product offerings are also identified with the letters LF, so a completed valve will have in the casting or engraved on it the letters LF.”
Near the end of the second quarter of this year, Watts will make available downloadable catalogs and price lists on all of its lead-free products and promotional items.
BrassCraft, Novi, Mich., also announced a line of compliant lead-free products. Beginning July 1, 2009, BrassCraft's compliant products will include brass stops, an array of solid brass fittings, and water line connectors for most jobs, including water heater applications.
“We offer plumbers a level of confidence with a brand they have trusted for years,” said Jim Whiteherse, BrassCraft’s senior vice president of sales. “They know that when confronted with situations such as new regulatory laws, they can count on BrassCraft to not only provide a timely solution, but to do so with a high quality product.”
Additional information on BrassCraft compliant products is available at www.brasscraft.com/Compliant.aspx.
T&S Brass announced that its U.S. facility has converted to Eco Brass, a lead-free alloy. Effective Jan. 1, 2010, products manufactured from the U.S. facility will meet new lead reduction legislation set forth by California Assembly Bill 1953.
“As of January 1, 2010, California and Vermont will require all fixtures and fittings that are introduced into commerce to meet the new lead reduction legislation,” stated Eva-Marie Fox, vice president of marketing. “By 2010, most T&S products, from spray valves to electronic faucets, will comply with this law and will have a weighted average lead content of no more than 0.25%.”
By converting to the Eco Brass alloy, all new models manufactured will provide low-lead health benefits to the consumer. The line has been through testing and has shown no difference in strength or finish.
Additional information on T&S Brass compliant products is available at www.tsbrass.com.
Watts’ Deviney believes that the California and Vermont lead-free laws are the start of a trend that may become national.
“You’ve got to believe that if it’s successful in California — and it has to be at this point, there is no indication it will be repealed — we may very well see a domino effect,” Deviney said.