Faucet makers settle Prop 65 case

Faucet manufacturers Price Pfister, Sterling, Kohler Co and Chicago Faucets have all settled a case involving their contravention of California’s Proposition 65 lead-in water law. The company’s settlement was reached with the state as well as the Environmental Law Foundation and the National Resource Defense Council, two environmental groups that had accused the manufacturers of selling kitchen faucets that did not meet California’s lead-in water standards.

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Des Plaines, Ill. – The list of faucet manufacturers putting California’s Proposition 65 law behind them is complete.

Chicago Faucets has reached an agreement with the state of California and two environmental groups regarding the lead-in-water law. Kohler Co., Sterling and Price Pfister have also reached separate agreements.

“It’s nice to have this whole thing behind us,” said Charlie Whipple, Chicago Faucets vice president/sales and marketing. “It was the right thing to do, and now we can get on with our business.”

The state of California, the National Resource Defense’ Council, the Environmental Law Foundation and Chicago Faucets agreed that all of the manufacturer’s commercial fittings will meet the National Sanitation Foundation International lead standard of 11 parts per billion. Residential kitchen faucets will meet the California standard of 5 ppb, and residential lavatory faucets will meet 11 ppb.

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“We have never disputed the need for standards concerning lead content,” said Alan Lougee, Chicago Faucets president. “But rather, our issue has always been the importance of standards that are appropriate for the ultimate end use of the faucet.”

Whipple said Lougee was referring to Chicago Faucets’ claim that the evidence brought forth was impractical. Their claim maintains that the levels at which lead leaching was measured were impractical.

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“People made rash assumptions about the way people use faucets,” Whipple added. “They based their numbers on the assumption that the same person would use a brand new faucet, every day, for the rest of his life, and begin drinking the first drop of water that comes out of each faucet, each time.

“This agreement took a while longer because Chicago Faucets didn’t agree with the settlement when the first group of companies agreed.”

Details of the agreements with Kohler Co., Sterling and Price Pfister, will not be disclosed until they are final, said Ed Weil, California deputy attorney general. Weil said the agreements are separate from each other, and put the three companies at the same status as Chicago Faucets.

“At this time, there are no actual settlements, just agreements,” Weil said. “The final drafts need to be drawn up and signed. However, in my experience with Chicago Faucets, I don’t expect there to be any problems with them.”

As part of the Chicago Faucets’ agreement, the company will give California a sum of money. In addition, Chicago Faucets’ production line must be converted to non-lead materials. “We began the changeover immediately,” Whipple said. Three furnaces were to be changed over by the end of 1995.

“Our castings will contain two-tenths of 1 percent of lead. That’s nothing,” he said. “You have more than that floating around just from existing here on this planet.”

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