Although Lead-Free still doesn’t mean completely free of lead, 0.25% (0.2% with respect to solder and flux) is a far cry from the current definition of 8.0%. Semantics aside, the repercussions of the altered definition are significant. Come next year, it will be illegal to sell or install products that do not adhere to the new requirement. Wetted parts include meters, expansion tanks, back-flow preventers, flexible connectors, strainers, and assorted gauges, fitting, valves, etc.
Any product used to convey water anticipated for human consumption. Wetted components for non-potable services such as manufacturing, industrial processing, outdoor watering, or toilets are therefore exempt. But in the case of the former, there is much work to be done. The good news is that the rule does not require existing infrastructure to be replaced. However, if a noncompliant component is taken out of service for any reason, such as repair or testing, it may need to be replaced. According to the EPA’s “Frequently Asked Questions” on the topic, “Any part used in the repair of the meter that is a pipe, pipe fitting, plumbing fitting, or fixture must meet the new definition of lead free, but the meter being repaired is not independently subject to the [Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act] requirements…because it is not being used or installed for the first time in that location.”