SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Today a bill to sharply reduce lead leaching from water faucets and fixtures passed the California Assembly. If it becomes law, it will create the nation’s most legally stringent lead leaching limit for faucets.
Assembly Bill 100, by Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), passed the state’s lower house by a vote of 45 – 0. The bill would limit lead leaching to no more than 1 microgram, making California the first state to enact a performance standard to ensure faucets and fixtures are practically lead-free.
Legislators are working with the plumbing industry to also require consumer-friendly labeling of faucets that meet the new standard.
Lead is a neurotoxin that can cause permanent brain damage, especially in children, who absorb half of the lead they ingest. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no safe level of lead exposure for children.
“Californians deserve to know that the faucets they buy for their homes don’t leach lead into their drinking water,” said Susan Little, EWG’s senior advocate for California government affairs. “Ending lead exposure is critical to protect our kids’ health. This bill also will ensure that California schools and child care centers will be able to find faucets and plumbing fixtures that leach as little lead as possible.”
“We want to ensure that Californians can feel comfortable when purchasing new faucets, and are not ingesting lead that we know to be dangerous to our health,” said Holden. “We all expect the water we drink will keep us and our children healthy, and not make us sick. This legislation ensures that faucets and plumbing fixtures sold in California leach as little lead as possible.”
“Consumers are unaware that “lead-free” devices leach any lead – and many would be shocked to learn the faucets leach so much lead – especially in the first few weeks of use,” Holden added.
In 2018, an investigation by NSF International, an independent consultant on public health standards, found that about one-fourth of the 692 faucets tested leached noticeable levels of lead. These fixtures are sold in stores nationwide.
No federal or state law explicitly limits the amount of lead that may leach from drinking water faucets and fixtures sold in California. The industry standard was recently revised to prohibit faucets certified beginning in 2024 from leaching more than 1 microgram of lead on average, but still allows faucets certified before 2024 to be sold. Manufacturers can elect to certify their faucets for the 1 microgram standard now.
Holden’s bill would require that all faucets sold in California meet the lower standard beginning on January 1 of next year.
AB 100 is co-sponsored by EWG, CalPIRG and Clean Water Action. The bill will now move to the state Senate, where it will be heard by the Senate policy committees. All bills must be passed by the legislature by September 10.
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.