It's official: Manufacturers have until Jan. 4, 2014, to ensure faucets, valves, and fittings contain no more than 0.25% lead.

Signed by President Barack Obama on Jan. 4, the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act amends the Safe Drinking Water Act to provide a single, nationwide formula for determining and certifying materials content. Distribution of main gate valves larger than 2 inches in diameter and the leaded joints of cast-iron pipes are exempt.

"This is designed to ensure manufacturers are using the materials they say they're using," says Pete Grenier, a technical manager for NSF International. The organization has developed drinking water standards on EPA's behalf since 1988 and is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

The amendment adds a new standard — NSF/ANSI 372 — to Annex G of NSF International/ANSI Standard 61(Drinking Water System ComponentsHealth Effects). This makes federal law consistent with testing protocols and verification requirements California passed in 2006 and lowers allowable lead content from 8%.

Click here for an excellent analysis of the pros, cons, and costs of specifying brass vs. lead-free brass vs. plastic solenoid vs. stainless steel valves for drinking water treatment equipment.

Click here to find plumbing fixtures that meet the new criteria.