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Bill to eliminate one source of lead.

Following are the comments of George Whalen, executive director of the Plumbing Foundation, before the New York City Council Committee on Housing and Buildings.

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, Chairman Spigner, my name is George Whalen and I am the executive director of the Plumbing Foundation, City of New York, which represents some 1,300 plumbing contractors and their 15,000 employees in the five boroughs, as well as professional organizations with an interest in maintaining the integrity of the city's unparalleled water supply system.

I am here in favor of Intro. 615, which my industry supports wholeheartedly.

This piece of legislation is simple, easy to implement and with little cost to taxpayers or consumers.

This legislation says, simply, that lead solder -- which is used to join copper pipes together -- will no longer be allowed in New York.

The negative effects of lead do not need to be enunciated by me. They have been evident since the third or fourth century BC. Our industry first raised questions about lead leaching from water pipes in 1842, 150 years ago. Young children and fetuses are at the highest risk from lead in water. This legislation will eliminate one obvious source of lead in water.

What is the cost to the taxpayer? This cost will be minimal. The city simply must make sure that the law is enforced. Spot checks in plumbing supply shops, warning letters to manufacturers, fines for continuous violators.

What is the cost to consumers? A few pennies. Solder is sold in rolls. Old-- fashioned 100 percent lead solder has been banned for years. Fifty-fifty solder, solder that is 50 percent lead costs $2 and change per roll. No-lead solder costs approximately $4. A new one-family house might use a single roll of solder during construction.

With this legislation, the plumbing industry will have four legal solders, down from six. We can live with that... and I suspect the prices of lead-free solders will drop.

What are the benefits of this legislation? Simple: we are eliminating one source of lead in our drinking water. As you all know, lead is not a normal constituent of New York's drinking water. Lead is introduced into water in the distribution system.

New York City, under the leadership of the City Council and the Department of Environmental Protection, has taken an aggressive stance to ensure that New York's water meets the tough, new Federal Standards for drinking water.

Over the years, the Council has passed legislation, supported by the Dinkins Administration, that is designed to reduce lead in our water. Most recently, the Council and DEP have supported a call by the Plumbing Foundation, the American Society of Sanitary Engineers and the American Society of Plumbing Engineers to establish standards for water filters and other home water treatment units as well as to ensure their proper installation by bonded, licensed and insured professionals.

DEP has introduced calcium orthophosphate into the water to reduce the amount of lead that leaches into water from lead service mains. The Council has passed legislation that has gradually and effectively reduced the uses for leaded solders ... a campaign that will culminate with the legislation being considered today.

New York City has moved into the forefront of pro-active environmental policies designed to protect and improve our precious water resources. This Council, especially this committee, and the city, especially the Department of Environmental Protection, have been leaders in this effort. All New York can be grateful for your leadership.
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Title Annotation:evaluation of legislation introduced to eliminate lead solder used in copper plumbing in New York state; excerpt from address given by Plumbing Foundation exec. director George Whalen
Author:Whalen, George
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Dec 16, 1992
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