By Shannon P. Murphy
There are, on any given day, numerous pieces of information and line items on each of our to-do lists. It is truly a juggling act to keep all of these balls up in the air.
Regulatory issues are like that; just when you think that you grasp what the new regs are, you get hit with something unexpected. That is how I was recently with the ESA Registration for the Canadian Province of Ontario, which will be addressed later.
There are priority business issues such as sales and marketing, direct contact with clients, products in the pipeline and new and innovative products to keep track of, not to mention separating the true diamonds in the rough from the snake oil. Regulatory issues often take a back seat to running the business.
Unfortunately, like it or not, we are in an ever-increasing world of regulatory pressures, some driven by public demand and others by political posturing. Either way, regulations are here to stay and unless we as an industry stay on top of them, they may take us over.
Welcome to the inaugural Flowing Issues column. Our intent is to pass along information, snippets on regulatory issues and legislative updates to WC&P readers and on-line subscribers. This periodic column will be shared with numerous professional colleagues throughout the year. All input and questions encouraged!
I am sure everyone has heard about what is going on in California regarding water softeners. As much as I wanted to avoid this topic due to the wealth of information out there currently, I would be remiss not to mention it at all in a regulatory update piece.
This is a critical issue for the industry, especially due to the way the regulatory world works in the US. Many individual states latch onto regulations that were birthed in California, as we are seeing in Arizona with the Phoenix Project that is taking place in Maricopa County, AZ.
At the core of the California issue is increasing salinity in sewage discharge, which politically is easy to point at residential water softeners and yell foul. To actually have a positive impact on controlling the real issue of salinity, however, will take a better understanding of what is causing the problem as opposed to this knee-jerk reaction.
The industry is striving to do just that and actually assist the state in its goals. To stay on top of the latest information regarding California AB 1366 go to www.aroundthecapitol.com/Bills/AB_1366 or http://www.savemysoftener.com.
While I am considering the state of California, I might as well discuss a few additional pieces of regulation that are pressing forward. California AB 1953 (as initially written) changes the meaning of the term ‘lead free’ in the California Health and Safety Code.
This also changes the current allowed regulation percentages from eight-percent lead for pipes or pipe fittings and four-percent lead for plumbing fittings and fixtures to a weighted average of not more than 0.25-percent lead content. This average is determined pursuant to a prescribed formula.
The proposed law (scheduled to be enforced starting January 1, 2010) references complete devices, not ‘components’ of that device. In discussions with NSF and a number of legal specialists, it has been recommended to ensure compliance with components, if sold separately, as well as the complete system itself.
Additionally, the initial focus of this bill has been plumbing products. While the water filtration industry may not feel that this bill pertains to our industry’s products, it is not out of the realm of enforcement possibilities that a water filtration device may be selected as a test unit for compliance evaluation.
This may not be an issue for a complete system, due to large surface areas of the complete system; it is a problem for individual parts sold as upgrades or replacement parts. These could include DWTU faucets or brass valves.
The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) will be evaluating and enforcing this law. At this time, they are allowed under the law to randomly select and test up to 75 products annually to verify compliance.
Compliance verification for these plumbing products are conducted using the calculations recently adopted in Annex G of ANSI/NSF Standard 61. This standard is a weighted-average calculation of all wetted materials in a product.
One question that remains unanswered is if DTSC will contact manufacturers of products selected for testing for information on what the product is made of in order to run the calculations, or if they will actually complete an in-agency test without input from the manufacturer.
The initial testing could include a screening method, which consists of XRF scanning of individual product components to determine actual lead content. If XRF screening raises a red flag, they would then proceed with a proper liquid-digestion and lean-composition analysis of the material.
Following testing and review, all products will be listed on the Web (www.dtsc.ca.gov) with information regarding whether the product meets the new regulation or not. Expect other states to monitor this closely and determine if they want to follow suit. Vermont is already looking to add this as a state requirement.
Proposition 65 is gaining some arsenic teeth in California. The Center for Environmental Health, under the regulations of Prop 65 (widely misunderstood as strictly a lead standard), has enacted the law regarding arsenic in carbon.
There are about half a dozen manufacturers that have legally been reined in for arsenic testing of their carbon products, which include raw carbon, GAC and carbon block filters. A higher-level view of the proposal states that “manufacturers shall not manufacture, distribute, ship, or sell any products that leach arsenic in concentrations greater than 5 ppb after October 15, 2009.”
There are a number of test protocols that have been agreed upon through legal settlement in California, based upon whether you are testing raw carbon or carbon block. Whichever test is conducted however, the arsenic level when tested must not exceed five ppb arsenic.
Additionally, there are mandatory flushing instructions that must be made available to the public regarding carbon systems. For POE products having bed volumes of 0.5 cubic feet (0.046 cubic meter) or less and all POU products, initial flushing of no less than 10 bed volumes is allowed. For POE products having bed volumes of greater than 0.5 cubic feet, initial flushing of no less than 10 gallons (37.85 liters) is allowed.
What does this mean for you? Chances are, if you are a manufacturer of carbon blocks, GAC filters or a raw carbon supplier, this is old news. For the rest that buy and sell filters and carbon by the bag, it is imperative that you contact your suppliers and speak with them about this issue.
The main issue at hand is that you should obtain legal letters from these suppliers regarding arsenic concentrations and compliance to the settlement that was completed in late 2008 and continues into this year. In all likelihood, if your supplier is in the US, they already have this legal documentation.
But it could be a hot-button issue for foreign imports to the US. It may be virtually impossible to obtain this information or a legal letter from some low-cost, import suppliers relative to this issue.
If you are selling or shipping product to the ‘great white north’, there are a couple of issues brewing in Canada.
In March 2007, The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) published the first writing of CSA B-483.1-07. This was in response to pressure from the CSA B125/ASME A112.128.1 Task Group inquiring about auxiliary faucets that are used on water treatment devices not having to be tested against that standard.
Additional focus by CSA and the plumbing code officials was on the connections. CSA and the plumbers/regulators wanted to make sure all external connections used for water filtration devices met CSA B-125 requirements.
There are a number of new requirements that a product will need to go through in order to be certified against this new B-483 standard. Many focus on the auxiliary faucet, such as life-cycle testing, coating corrosion analysis (e.g., salt-spray testing), handle security, etc. There are also some requirements for faucet-mount water filters, such as thermal cycling and dimensional analysis.
Interestingly, the recently revised plumbing code in Canada will not reference the new B-483 standard. That, however, is not restricting Provincial enforcement outside of the national plumbing code. Starting in October 2009, the Code de Construction du Québec (or the plumbing code for the Province of Quebec) will require compliance to the new B-483 standard for water treatment devices.
For products that are already certified against the appropriate NSF standard, testing and certification should be rather simple and fast. Just make sure that products are bracketed correctly.
The biggest issue will be different finishes available on faucets. This may require individual testing on each finish and could be cost prohibitive to run on all available finishes.
Keep a cautionary eye
Keep a cautionary eye out on the status of plumbing standards and some of the updates that are coming down the line. The CSA B-483 Task Group worked for many years on getting the standard to a point that was agreeable to all involved parties: regulators, plumbers, manufacturers and certification bodies.
There is some work yet to do on B-483, (e.g., UV certification) as the requirements for faucets and auxiliary taps were a highly contested part of the standard. After many hours of meetings, final consensus was agreed upon regarding what testing was necessary for these components.
However, an initiative has recently been put forth by CSA to bring up additional testing requirements for auxiliary taps in CSA B-125. Where the initial intent of this may be for devices such as actuators for soda fountains, the industry needs to make sure that it is not a means to add additional requirements to products that are currently covered under a different standard, namely B-483.
Out of the blue
An item that seemed to come out of the blue has, in fact, been rummaging around for a while. The Province of Ontario has a new requirement for all electrical products sold within the province.
Pursuant to Ontario Regulation 438/07, all electrical products sold in Ontario must be registered with the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA). Specifically, Regulation 438/07 requires that manufacturers, wholesalers, product importers, distributors, retailers and field evaluators register all products with ESA. These companies also need to report to ESA any serious electrical incident, accident or defect with electrical products or devices that could or are likely to affect the safety of any person or cause damage to property.
Registration with ESA is completed online (www.esasafe.com) with initial registration costing $350 (USD) for all products and $300 (USD) annually. Manufactures will have until August 30 to complete the registration process.
There are, of course, some complications. Firstly, you can only register products for which you hold the certification. So, if you assemble water softeners that use a plug-in valve that you purchase from a supplier, you cannot register the valve or the final water softener unless you have the complete water softener certified under your company’s name.
The Ontario Electrical Safety Code does not require components used in end products to be certified. If, however, a component in an end product is certified, it is the responsibility of the certified electrical component manufacturer to register with ESA.
Clear? Your best bet is to contact your suppliers of electrical equipment to make sure they are aware of this and that they are registering their products.
Secondly, and possibly the best part, is that you can only register once annually. All registrations must be entered through the Web portal by August 30.
If you register a list of products and then realize that you missed a few, you will have to wait until the 2010 period in order to register those products, which will not be in compliance with the electrical registration requirements.
It is best to have a comprehensive list of products prepared first, since registration is a flat fee, regardless of number of the products. For additional information regarding this matter, CWQA is keeping tabs on nuisances and interpretations.
About the author
Shannon P. Murphy is Vice President of Municipal Water Programs for Watts Premier Inc., a division of Watts Water Technologies of North Andover, Mass. Murphy has a Bachelor’s Degree in biology from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada and Master’s Degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. He has also been a member of the WC&P Technical Review Committee since 2004. Murphy can be reached at email@example.com.