Are You Ready For Lead-Free?

April 3rd, 2013 4:26pm
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Are You Ready For Lead-Free?

If you answered the question above with "not yet", or worse, "what lead-free?", maybe starting the process should be included in your plans soon. On January 4, 2014, brass/bronze alloy products intended for potable water applications will become obsolete when the new Federal No Lead Law 111-380 becomes effective. Now is the time to begin thinking about how the conversion to compliant no-lead products will impact your business and your customers. It's important because the change will be enforced by laws and formal procedures for violators, from administrative orders up to judicial actions, including civil and criminal court cases.

This law applies to plumbing products intended for conveying or dispensing water for human consumption. It defines "lead-free" material as containing not more than 0.25% weighted average lead for wetted surface areas. Products intended for use in manufacturing, industrial processing, and irrigation are not affected.

Be prepared to explain to your customers that the required no-lead valve or fitting is 25 - 50% higher in price than the comparable standard product that they purchased prior to the law going into effect. There are valid reasons for this. Because there is no current process known to remove lead from bronze or brass alloy, manufacturing recycle and post-consumer scrap cannot be used, Only higher-cost virgin materials can be used to forge lead-free. The cost of labor and machine time in the factory is also increased, due to wear on tooling. Without lead in the alloy, machining processes must slow down and tooling must be changed out 2 to 3 times more often. 

Erb Company is working with it's suppliers, preparing inventory so we will be ready to service your lead-free needs. In the meantime, we can answer your questions and provide educational resources. Our suppliers are helping to smooth the transition by developing clear identification for their lead free items, such markings on the products themselves, hang tags, case labels, and model numbers that contain designations. For example, a popular Legend ball valve "T/S 1001" simply becomes "T/S 1001NL".

Your sales representatives are being trained to guide you with conversations about your purchases that will keep you compliant, and we are looking forward to helping you get through this mandatory changeover. Maybe in a few short years it will be second nature to everyone in the industry!

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