The federal law in place to protect consumers from lead in drinking water must be updated to reflect current scientific understanding about the leaching of lead from plumbing materials.
- The federal Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) has not been significantly revised since it was first enacted in 1991. The LCR must be revised as soon as possible to reflect newer scientific understanding of lead in drinking water, which has advanced significantly since the LCR was last revised.
- Scientific studies show that lead service lines are the most significant sources of lead in drinking water when they are present. Therefore, a crucial step toward preventing lead contamination of drinking water is removal of these lines. Scientific studies also show that replacing only a portion of a lead service line (a harmful practice that is widespread across the US and, under certain circumstances, even required by the LCR) can increase lead leaching in the short- and long-term. For this reason, partial lead service line replacement must be banned and a legal requirement must be put into place to mandate complete removal of all lead service lines in a timely manner.
- The LCR must be revised to reflect and address all new scientific knowledge about lead in drinking water (e.g., that lead appears not only in soluble form but also in the form of particles, that the release of lead from any single tap can vary from one minute to the next, that galvanized iron pipes can “capture” lead from lead-bearing plumbing materials and release it at a later time) and to mandate remediation programs known scientifically to protect the public’s health.
- The LCR must ban all tap water sampling practices known to miss lead (e.g., pre-flushing, aerator removal, and use of low flow to fill sample bottles).
- Federal rules must mandate independent certification of all plumbing materials labeled “lead free,” and such certification must address both the lead content of plumbing materials as well as their actual performance in leaching lead.