Water Valves

In 2001, As You Sow filed notices of violation of Proposition 65 against manufacturers, distributors, and retailers of drinking water system components after learning that many such products were being manufactured with alloys that contain up to 12% lead. These bronze and brass components of drinking water systems — including backflow preventers, pressure regulators, pressure reducing valves, ball valves, gate valves, check valves, stop valves, plumbing valves and strainers – come into contact with and leach lead into drinking water.

Six manufacturers reached agreements with As You Sow to address these public health concerns, including some agreements to sell only products manufactured with virtually lead free alloy. Companies that reached agreements with As You Sow include Flomatic Corporation, American Granby, American Valve, Jomar, Red White Valve and Legend Valve.

Most defendants, however, decided to aggressively litigate these violations, and challenged the sufficiency of the test method selected by As You Sow. The test chosen by As You Sow was developed by NSF International, a not-for-profit, non-governmental organization dedicated to standards development, product certification, education and risk management for public health and safety.

In March of 2004, Judge Richard A. Kramer of the San Francisco Superior Court ruled that As You Sow’s selected test method (NSF/ANSI-61, Section 8) was not an appropriate method of analysis under existing regulations because it did not utilize the specific medium of “California drinking water.” As You Sow appealed this ruling and in December of 2005, the California Court of Appeal for the First Appellate District upheld Judge Kramer’s decision. As You Sow recently filed a Petition for Review with the California Supreme Court.

In the interim, however, millions of Californians continue to be exposed to lead leaching into their drinking water from these plumbing products.