This video from the 2022 NCC Seminars discusses lead in plumbing from NCC 2022 Volume Three, and the transition to lead-free by 2025.
Hello, and welcome to the Australian
Building Codes Board 2022 seminar for NCC Volume Three.
My name is Tom Roberts and I'm the director of Plumbing at the Australian Building Codes Board.
Today I will present on the changes to the allowable lead levels in plumbing products.
The ABCB will be reducing the allowable led content in plumbing products.
Products which contain copper alloys and are intended for use in contact with drinking water
will be required to have a weighted average of lead content of not more than 0.25 percent.
NCC 2022 will specify the new requirements and will outline the transition period for this
change. There are a few reasons for this change. One consideration was for international practices.
Australia is a small market on the global scale and consideration was given to what is happening
internationally to ensure that Australia does not create more stringent requirements than other
countries. If this happened, this requirement will become a barrier to trade in the importation of
plumbing products. As such, this change will align with the level set by other countries such as the
US and Canada, and consistency also ensures that there is suitable technology available to continue
to manufacture copper alloy products compliant with this requirement. The second and major
consideration was for the health benefits that can be achieved through this change.
Is important to remember that existing plumbing products uh must meet stringent manufacturing and
testing requirements to demonstrate compliance to the Australian drinking water guidelines.
That said, there are health benefits that can be derived from the use of
lead-free plumbing products through further reducing the potential exposure to lead.
Most people know that lead isn't great for you. Lead has long been recognized as
a cumulative toxin and once it enters the body there's no lead level that is considered safe.
The negative health impacts of lead are most profound in children under 4 years of age and
pregnant women. The advice from various health agencies encourage governments to
eliminate non-essential uses of lead where possible so that is what we've been doing.
The ABCB undertook a large amount of research and analysis looking into lead in plumbing products.
The Maquarie University was engaged to undertake a literature review to determine the extent that
plumbing products and materials may contribute to lead levels in drinking water in excess of
those permitted by the Australian drinking water guidelines. The project looked into historical and
modern research and the review of international and national literature. Analysis also played a
key part in defining the appropriate application of the lead-free requirements of the NCC.
A regulatory a regulation impact statement was developed to consider whether reducing
lead content in plumbing products in contact with drinking water can have a measurable
impact on reducing lead content in drinking water and the blood levels, particularly in
the vulnerable populations. Both of these documents are available on the ABCB website.
There will be a 3 year transition period to allow manufacturers and suppliers time to ensure that
there is sufficient lead-free plumbing products in the market before the 1st of September 2025.
For now, there's nothing that plumbers need to do but beyond
the first of September in 2025 only lead-free plumbing products will be
authorized for installation and existing products will no longer be able to be used.
Lead free is defined in NCC 2022 and outlines that products which are deemed
compliant to the lead requirements of the NCC are considered lead-free.
This definition ensures consistency in the terminology used within industry.
The WaterMark schedule of products can be found on the ABCB website.
This schedule indicates exactly which products need to be meet the lead-free requirements.
Some examples of products are included copper alloy fittings, valves, taps,
mixers, water dispensers, such as boiling and cooling units,
and water meters, where these products are installed in contact with drinking water.
From the 1st of September 2025 products which are required to
be lead-free must be certified as lead-free through the watermark
certification scheme to be authorized for installation in a plumbing system.
Plumbing products that do not conform to the lead-free requirements will no longer have
a valid WaterMark certification and will not be authorized for installation in a plumbing system.
Now that we have covered why we are moving to lead free, let's talk about how we are moving
to lead-free. The transition to lead-free plumbing products has already commenced.
It is important to note that lead-free requirements for products that are are
not retrospective. That is, they only apply to products installed in new plumbing work.
The lead and plumbing products implementation plan is on the ABCB website.
This is a roadmap for the transition process and provides information about the transition process
and sets out key milestones and review points for installation and enforcement.
To enable industry to commence the manufacturing and testing and certification of plumbing products
conforming to the lead-free requirements, the ABCB has published WaterMark Notices of Direction.
The first notice provides direction on the certification transition arrangements for
lead-free requirements for plumbing products as outlined in NCC 2022. The second notice provides
direction on the materials to be used in the manufacture of lead-free plumbing products.
This notice outlines the process to achieve compliance with the lead-free
requirements of NCC 2022. It outlines the certification transition arrangements for
WaterMark conformity assessment bodies and license holders that they must comply with,
and the materials to be used in the manufacture of lead-free plumbing products.
Specific certification procedures are being developed to ensure consistent harmonised
certification activity. Registration of a mandatory certification trademark is being
pursued with IP Australia. The images you can give you an indication of what it might look like.
Products certified to lead-free requirements must be marked with the lead-free WaterMark
and not the WaterMark. Lead-free marking requirements will indicate
compliance with lead-free requirements, easily differentiate existing certified products,
and lead-free certified products, and assist regulation at the point of installation.
Packaging, marketing or promotional material for products certified to
the lead-free requirements may also choose to use the lead-free WaterMark.
Lead-free compliance must be indicated on the Watermark Certificate of Conformity, the product
listing on the WaterMark database, and the scope of view statement provided with the product.
Products marked with the lead-free WaterMark may retain in anyinternational lead-free product
marking that is already on the product. As we move closer to the 1st of September 2025 and
the conclusion of the transition period, the ABCB released additional education and awareness and
resources to help support industry in the change to lead-free plumbing products. The ABCB has some
frequently asked questions and the implementation plan which will continue to be updated as the
go-to guide. Other awareness initiatives will be released throughout the transition period.
To summarise some of the key points about the move to lead-free, existing certified products
that are not re-certified as lead-free are safe to use and will remain authorised for installation
until the 31st of August 2025. The transition period concludes on the 1st of September 2025.
After this date lead-free products will be or and will only be authorised for installation.
Inherently, lead-free products such as those made of stainless steel that are not required
to be certified to lead-free may voluntarily be certified or re-certified as lead-free.
If you have any questions please review the ABCB resources available on the ABCB
website or get in touch with us through our contact us page. Thank you for watching.