Stone World

Water Quality Takes Center Stage

January 7, 2011
Plumbing faucets and fixtures must meet new low-lead standards. 


Blame it on the recession. Concerns over water quality seem to drop from the public’s radar for much of 2009 and 2010. 

True, pros who work in this area still hammered away to improve their products and services. As we start 2011, water quality is back in the news.

Today (January 7), the Associated Press released a story claiming there is too much fluoride in drinking water and it is causing a tooth condition in kids called fluorosis. Click here to read the story. AP cited the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as recommending a reduction in fluoride from a maximum of 1.2 milligrams per liter of water to 0.7 milligrams.

If the maximum-level of 0.7 milligrams is adopted, it will mark the first time in 50 years that the recommended fluoride level in U.S. drinking water has been altered.

Ironically, I spoke to family-member about this topic last week. He had heard the rumblings, and as a dentist, was concerned. He had even heard that some local jurisdictions are contemplating removing fluoride completely from their water supplies.

Based on years of studying people’s teeth and dental hygiene, he predicted that removing fluoride from drinking water would be a disaster. On the plus side, he said, he would be so busy he could work 24/7 with no interruptions in the flow of patients needing substantial dentistry. He jokingly predicted he would retire 10 years early.

On January 4, President Obama signed into law the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act that reduces the allowable lead in plumbing faucets and fixtures from 8% to 0.25%. Most manufacturers had previously met this standard in order to comply with a 2006 California ruling that also specified the 0.25% limit by 2010.

On January 6, NSF International distributed a press release announcing its support of the new lead reductions regulations for drinking water. As an organization that certifies products that writes standards, you could say it has self-interest in promoting the new lead standards. And yet, NSF, UL, CSA, and many other certification/standard-writing organizations continually raise the bar on public safety.

Separately, the Plumbing Manufacturers Institute also praised the new regulations, as was reported in Supply House Times.

“It is an exciting victory, primarily for consumers, and also for the plumbing manufacturing industry, as well as for wholesalers, retailers, contractors and others involved with the production, distribution, sales and installation of these products,” said PMI Executive Director Barbara C. Higgens. “The effort reinforces our commitment to protecting the future of our national and local water supply through water-efficient plumbing products and practices that provide clean, safe, drinking water.”

Many will see these new regulations as more government intrusion to how their companies must conduct business. And yet, continually raising standards for our nation’s health and welfare usually create as many opportunities as they diminish. Let’s hope these new regulations do both.

If you are involved in water quality in any way, check out the Water Quality Association’s Aquatech USA show by clicking here. It takes place March 8-11 in San Antonio, TX, and covers process, drinking, and ultrapure water for residential, commercial and industrial users.

Separately, check out these construction/maintenance company success stories at http://www.bnpmedia.com/movingon. Readers of BNP Media trade magazines share what ideas and tactics they’ve used to excel in spite of the tough economy.