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 ELKHART, Ind., Feb. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- A metal mined in far-off Bolivia and used widely in a popular pink remedy for indigestion is now being used as an ingredient in a lead-free alloy for plumbing components.
 Product development specialists at NIBCO INC. are replacing the lead found in typical brass alloys with bismuth. In fact, claims that faucets and other lead-free components are not available to American consumers come as a surprise to product researchers at NIBCO, which has marketed its bismuth-based plumbing system since September 1991.
 Bismuth is a soft, course crystalline heavy metal with a silvery- white color and a pinkish tinge. The pharmaceutical industry is the largest single user of bismuth in the United States. But the metal is used in such diverse applications as fire sprinkler systems, in which the low melting temperature helps release water in order to extinguish a fire, and cosmetics, where it gives the pearlescent sheen to nail polish, lipstick and eye shadow.
 According to Jim Bamber, national sales manager at NIBCO, earlier attempts by plumbing manufacturers to substitute bismuth for lead in bronze alloys resulted in the embrittlement of the alloy. The alloy used in the company's HydraPure system is a compound of phosphorus- copper, tin, zinc and bismuth, a blend that improves the fluidity and castings characteristics.
 NIBCO and others in the industry have conducted studies to show that the relative contribution of lead from household plumbing systems is small. "However, there may be specific instances where a combination of factors would make it wise to minimize all risks associated with lead," Bamber said.
 A federal lead ban passed in 1986 allows the continued use of plumbing fixtures containing up to eight percent lead.
 "While legislators continue to tighten the guidelines on plumbing products, homeowners do not have to wait for safe systems," Bamber said.
 IMI Holdings of Yorkshire, England, created the HydraPure formula and holds the patent, according to Bamber. NIBCO has a licensing agreement with IMI Holdings to manufacture lead-free plumbing components for a certain period of time, which Bamber declined to reveal.
 -0- 2/19/93
 /EDITOR NOTES: Rex Martin, president, and Jim Bamber, marketing/sales director of NIBCO INC., are available for interviews.
Contact either at 219-295-3000. Martin's extension is 387; Bamber's is

225. For a copy of the report issued by the Environmental Quality Institute referred to in this release, contact Maggie Smith at 219-271-5621, ext. 230.
 NIBCO's line of lead-free plumbing components is one of the products being featured at the 1993 National Association of Home Builders Show, starting today in Las Vegas/
 /CONTACT: Maggie Smith of Juhl Public Relations, 219-271-5621, ext. 230, for NIBCO Inc./

CO: NIBCO Inc. ST: Indiana IN: CHM SU: PDT

KK -- CLFNS12 -- 8498 02/19/93 15:36 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Feb 19, 1993

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