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Homeowners in California are concerned about lead piping due to new laws.


Category: Plumbing

For decades, lead plumbing fixtures have been linked to health problems. A new plumbing ordinance recently passed into law in California will place tight restrictions on the manufacture and sale of lead-leaching plumbing fittings. Here's what you need to know about lead plumbing fixtures in your house, as well as what you should do about them.

California's New Anti-Lead Plumbing Laws

Governor Gavin Newsom of California has signed AB 100 into law, which creates new lead leaching rules for the state. The law forbids the manufacture and sale of any plumbing fixture, fitting, or faucet in California that does not comply with NSF/ANSI/CAN 61-2020 criteria beginning January 1, 2023. The law further stipulates that any device intended to carry or distribute water for human use must be packaged and labeled in accordance with the "lead-free" standard.

"Through certified, 'lead-free' endpoint devices, AB 100 will help reduce the risk of lead exposure in the built environment," said Robyn Fischer, director of government relations for the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials, based in Ontario, California (IAPMO). "This new law will complement larger-scale efforts underway to help protect Californians' water infrastructure and reaffirms the state's commitment to public health and safety," says the governor.

What exactly is lead piping?

Lead is a heavy metal that is mined from ore in the process of extracting more precious metals like silver, gold, and zinc. It is readily available, malleable, and corrosion resistant. If you press, hammer, or bend it, it will not break or crack. Furthermore, it is easily melted at low temperatures.

Because of these qualities, it has been used to make a variety of products throughout history, including the lead pipe. For thousands of years, lead piping has been used to transport water from one location to another, and lead piping in homes was previously fairly prevalent. However, this does not imply that you want it in your house.

What are the Health Consequences of Lead Exposure?

Using statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has emphasized the dangers of lead. According to the research, "lead can harm practically every organ and system in your body." It goes on to outline the following potential consequences of lead exposure in at-risk populations.

Lead Poisoning in Children

Even low levels of lead in the blood of children can result in:

  • Behavior and learning problems

  • Lower IQ and Hyperactivity

  • Slowed growth

  • Hearing Problems

  • Anemia

Lead Poisoning in Pregnant Women

Lead can accumulate in our bones over time. During pregnancy, it is released from the mother's bones, exposing the fetus or the breastfeeding infant to lead, potentially leading to:

  • Miscarriage

  • Premature birth

  • Damaged brain, kidneys, and nervous system

  • Future learning or behavioral problems

Lead Poisoning in Pregnant Women

Lead is also harmful to other adults. Adults exposed to lead can suffer from:

  • Cardiovascular effects such as increased blood pressure and hypertension

  • Decreased kidney function

  • Reproductive problems (in both men and women)

Flint, Michigan experienced the most well-known lead water crisis in 2014, which lasted until 2019. Lead from badly treated water leached out of ancient pipes into thousands of homes in that city, causing illness and death across the region. Lead poisoning symptoms are well-known, and other states, including California, have taken notice.

What Year Did Lead Pipes Become Prohibited? What Are the Characteristics of Lead Pipes?

Lead pipes in water sources were made prohibited in 1969. If your home is older than that, you should get your pipes checked to see if they are made of lead.

So, how do lead pipes appear? They have a drab gray tone with a little blue tint to them. It has a tarnished lead-like appearance. When scraped, the surface reveals a gleaming silver color. When exposed to oxygen, though, it reverts to a drab gray. To determine whether you have lead pipes, locate where the mains water pipe enters your home (usually under your kitchen sink, in the downstairs toilet, or under the stairs).

  • If the service line appears to be a dark matte gray hue, it is most likely a lead service line. If the line is brownish copper in color, it is a copper supply line.

  • Make a magnet out of it. It's steel if it sticks. If it's made of lead, it won't work (note that it also would not stick to copper).

  • With a coin or a screwdriver, scrape the pipe lightly. It's a lead pipe if there's a gleaming silver-colored metal underneath. When scratching lead pipes, be aware that small amounts of lead dust might be released, which can be dangerous if inhaled, thus use a face mask while doing so.

Contacting a competent plumber for an inspection is your best bet. If it's discovered that you have lead pipes, it's advisable to have them changed for the sake of your health and that of your family.

More information on how much it costs to replace pipes in your home may be found here. Contact the experts if you're ready to chat about replacing lead pipes in your home right now.

Interested in a free, over-the-phone price estimate?
In need of an urgent repair?
Contact Ori at 818-612-8772 or email

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