SACRAMENTO – On Tuesday, California’s State Legislature approved Assembly Bill 100, which would enact the strictest lead-leaching limit for drinking water faucets in the nation.
The bill authored by Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) would require all potable faucets and fixtures sold in California from 2023 onward to leach no more than 1 microgram of lead -- five times less lead than the current industry certification standard allows.
If Gov. Gavin Newsom signs the bill into law, California would be the first state to enact a performance standard to ensure faucets and fixtures are practically lead-free.
The bill passed the California legislature with a unanimous and bipartisan vote.
“After years of working to protect children from the harmful effects of lead, I am thrilled to see AB 100 pass the legislature,” said Holden. “AB 100 will protect children and all Californians from the damaging effects of lead.”
Lead is a neurotoxin that can cause permanent brain damage, especially in children, who absorb half of the lead that they ingest. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no safe level of lead exposure in drinking water for children.
“By approving AB 100, California’s State Legislature has taken strong action to reduce lead in the public’s drinking water,” said Susan Little, senior advocate for California government affairs at the Environmental Working Group. “Californians want to drink lead-free water, and they want to protect their children from lead exposure. But they can’t do this if the plumbing fixtures sold in stores still leach significant amounts of lead.”
The legislature’s approval of AB 100 follows the launch of California’s child care drinking water testing program. The program, which was mandated by another EWG-sponsored bill authored by Holden, requires licensed child care centers to test their drinking water for lead, and to reduce lead levels if lead is found. The availability of more health-protective faucets will help in meeting the state’s goal of eliminating all lead from drinking water at child care centers.
Schools from kindergarten through 12th grade, which have already conducted limited testing of drinking water, will also benefit from the availability of faucets that leach less lead.
“In order to protect children’s health, we need to get lead out of our drinking water,” said Little. “Enactment of AB 100 will ensure that California schools and child care centers can purchase faucets and plumbing fixtures that leach as little lead as possible -- as soon as possible.”
AB 100 is cosponsored by EWG, CalPIRG and Clean Water Action.
This bill now heads to Newsom for his review and, if he signs it, will become law on January 1, 2022. The lead-leaching standard will go into effect in 2023.
The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.