Frequently Asked Questions

Why Does the Safe Drinking Water Act Affect Me?

The 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act amendment:

  1. Includes specific concerns with lead leachate from any drinking water fixtures.
  2. Goes into effect August 6, 1998.
  3. Stipulates that products that do not comply with NSF 61 lead testing protocol can not be sold after that date.

What Does the Safe Drinking Water Act Specifically Affect?

Assemblies and repair components used for:

  1. Kitchen faucets
  2. Ice cube makers
  3. Bar faucets
  4. Water coolers
  5. Anything supplying drinking water

What Is the Safe Drinking Water Act?

The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) of 1974 governs drinking water quality in both municipalities and rural water districts and was established to minimize chemical and bacterial contamination in drinking water. Section 1417 of the 1986 SDWA amendments addressed concerns for lead contamination in drinking water systems. As of June 19, 1986, all pipes, solders, pipe fittings or plumbing fixtures used to provide water for human consumption had to be "lead-free". The term "lead-free" was defined to mean that solder and flux could not contain more than 0.2 percent lead; pipes and fittings could not contain more than 8.0 percent; and plumbing fittings and fixtures must comply with voluntary standards required under the SDWA. The 1996 SDWA amendments, section 1417(e) mandates that voluntary standards be established a year after enactment of the SDWA amendments of 1996 (to become effective two years after enactment date).

What Is NSF* Standard 61?

This is a health effects standard, which embodies a testing protocol that measures and limits the amount of lead and other contaminants that a device may contribute to drinking water. It also applies to any devices used within the final one liter of volume that exits from a tap or other device. Plumbing fixtures and fittings that comply with this standard are considered "lead-free" and may be used in drinking water systems. NSF International is located at:

3475 Plymouth Road
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48105
(313) 769-8010

*By Federal Register notice dated August 22, 1997, the US EPA stated, "NSF Standard 61, section 9 satisfies the requirement of section 1417(e), that a voluntary standard be established."

If You Want To Be Certified, Do You Have To Use NSF Exclusivley?

No. Underwriters Laboratory is also accredited.

Do Products, Offered For Sale, Have To Be Certified To NSF Standard 61?

The SDWA does not mention certification. Anyone manufacturing, selling or installing a plumbing product needs to make sure that their products comply with the NSF standard by August 6, 1998. However, 29 states currently have regulations requiring that products be certified to NSF Standard 61, section 9 by an ANSI accredited laboratory and legislation in expected by additional states.

Are Copper Alloys That Contain Lead Outlawed By SDWA?

No. The act does not address materials used to construct faucets and other fittings and fixtures. It requires that the final "device" must comply to NSF Standard 61 section 9. Therefore, many copper alloys commonly used for the manufacture of plumbing fittings and fixtures (i.e. C34000, C34500, C35300, C36000, C37700, C83800, C85200, etc.) can be used.

For additional information regarding this subject, see The Safe Drinking Water Act and Copper Alloys.