The ABCB has decided to limit the allowable lead content in plumbing products which contain copper alloys and are intended for use in contact with drinking water. This decision is enabled by inclusion of lead free requirements at Clause A5G4 of the Plumbing Code of Australia 2022 (PCA).
If a plumbing product is manufactured to meet those requirements it may be WaterMark certified as a lead free plumbing product. The term ‘lead free‘ is defined in PCA 2022 as ‘where a plumbing product or material in contact with drinking water has a weighted average lead content of not more than 0.25%’.
Lead has always been permitted in small proportions in the raw materials used to manufacture some plumbing products. Whilst those lead levels ensured compliance with the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines, the use of lead free products will contribute to improved public safety.
How does this impact the WaterMark certification process?
The WaterMark Schedule of Products outlines all plumbing products which require WaterMark certification to be authorised for installation in a plumbing or drainage system. The Schedule also identifies which products must comply with the lead free requirements of PCA 2022.
From 1 May 2023 a 3-year transition period commenced for identified products to be certified to meet the lead free requirements. During this transition period products may be Lead Free WaterMark certified and supplied to the market with the Lead Free WaterMark trademark, however, it will not be mandatory for identified products to do so until 1 May 2026. This means products certified to the non-lead free requirements will remain authorised for installation during the transition period.
However, from 1 May 2026 only lead free versions of identified products will be authorised for use in plumbing systems used to convey drinking water. From this date consumers, plumbing practitioners and regulators will need to look for the Lead Free WaterMark trademark on a plumbing product to ensure the product being purchased or installed is authorised for use in contact with drinking water.
Where can I find more information?
The ABCB Lead in Plumbing Products Implementation Plan provides information about implementation of this initiative and its health benefits, the details of clause A5G4 of the PCA 2022, and compliance at the point of installation.
The ABCB Notice of Direction on certification transition arrangements for lead free plumbing products provides detailed information and directions on transition arrangements for documentation, certification, marking, materials, enforcement at the point of installation and voluntary lead free certification.
The ABCB Notice of Direction on acceptable copper alloys for the manufacture of lead free plumbing products provides detailed information and directions on acceptable alternative materials. This includes prescriptive or performance options to meet the lead free material requirements.
The ABCB Notice of Direction on marking requirements for lead free plumbing products provides information about product marking requirements for Lead Free WaterMark certified products.
The ABCB Notice of Direction on Annual factory inspections of lead free plumbing products provides direction on the requirement for annual factory inspections for Lead Free WaterMark certified products.
The news article Update: Advice for plumbing practitioners on the new lead requirements on the ABCB website.
And make sure you are Registered with the National Construction Code to receive news, updates and notifications about Lead Free WaterMark and other ABCB initiatives.
Refer to the lead in plumbing products Frequently Asked Questions.