Wilma Chan’s 2006 Calif. law lowered
the amount of lead in pipes and fixtures
 to one-fourth percent.

By Steven Tavares

Palo Alto Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA14) wants the U.S. Senate to pass stringent regulations on lead faucet fixtures similar to the law Wilma Chan introduced four years ago in the California assembly.

Current federal law designates pipes and fittings to contain no more than eight percent lead and home faucet fixtures no more than four percent. Chan wrote in the California Progress Report most household faucet weigh more than six pounds. “We’ve long known that lead contained in a faucet or other household plumbing will leach into the drinking water as that water passes through the plumbing,” said Chan. “So how safe can a faucet be that contains a quarter pound of lead?” After eight years in the assembly, Chan regained her seat on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors last June, replacing Alice Lai-Bitker

Eshoo’s bill, which was passed by the House of Representatives July 30 and now heads to the Senate, would follow Chan’s lead in lowering the amount of lead in pipes and fixtures to one-fourth of one percent. After fierce opposition to Chan’s AB 1953 by lobbyists from just about every major faucet manufacturer, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the bill into law in 2006. The law went into effect in California on July 1 of this year.

Eshoo’s attempt to “Get the Lead Out” of the nation’s drinking water–the actually title of the proposed act–has also faced opposition from faucet manufacturers this time around who want to set the limits of their own findings while also administering the actual testing for lead. “In other words,” said Chan, “industry says ‘trust us.’ We should not be fooled into allowing the proverbial fox to guard the henhouse.”

Exposure to high amounts of lead can lead to hypertension, lowered IQ and kidney problems. Children are more susceptible to the effects of lead than adults since the toxin is not easily flushed out of the system and accumulates in the bodies of kids. “We know the damage lead exposure causes, we know how to prevent it, and we know the cost of doing nothing,” Eshoo said. “In California, we have a successful formula to prevent lead exposure and the damage it causes. It’s time we protect the rest of the country.”