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California Builders: Do Your Plumbing Systems Meet State Drinking Water Standards?

Research conducted by NSF International indicates that one-third of PEX plumbing piping samples tested per the NSF 61 drinking water standard exceed California drinking water standards for methyl-tert-butyl-ether (MTBE).

California Code Title 22, Division 4, Chapter 15, Article 5.5 establishes maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) independently from federal drinking water standards. In the state of California, MTBE is regulated with a MCL of 13 µg/L (parts per billion).

When evaluated using the industry standard NSF 61 test method three out of nine samples of PEX plumbing pipe demonstrated MTBE levels ranging from 15% – 92% above the California maximum contaminant level.

According to the State of California, MTBE levels above the 13 µg/L MCL present a 95% degree of confidence of a 10% increased risk of cancer in humans. Since January 1, 2000, at least 24 water sources in California have been shut down due to MTBE contamination as it is illegal in the state for a public water system to provide drinking water that exceeds this 13 µg/L MCL.

What does this mean for California home builders?

At least one builder in Arizona has already faced litigation from homebuyers alleging chemical poisoning due to MTBE water contamination, these suits were eventually settled at a cost of $175,000 per home.

With the public increasing their focus on drinking water quality in the wake of the Flint water crisis, home builders should exercise caution to ensure that their plumbing systems fully comply with California’s MTBE regulations.

What can I do to keep my water safe?

It is important to understand that not all PEX pipes will be a problem, in fact only one-third of PEX brands tested were found to exceed the California limit.

Fortunately, NSF International can provide documentation for specific plumbing piping manufacturers to confirm compliance with California’s drinking water regulations. Concerned builders should insist that their plumbers provide this NSF International documentation for any plumbing piping material installed in your homes.

If such documentation cannot be produced, there is no way to independently guarantee that your plumbing systems comply with California’s MCL requirements for MTBE.

Want to learn more?

Attend PCBC, June 27-28 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco and visit booth 2057 to speak with expert piping system consultants about the steps you can take to ensure superior drinking water quality in your homes.

If you’re ready to make the switch to a plumbing system that has been documented to comply with California’s MTBE regulations, visit us today: https://www.flowguardgold.com/maketheswitch.

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