Lead Content of Cross Fitting.

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by dlipter, May 18, 2013.

  1. dlipter

    dlipter New Member

    I am becoming obsessed with toxic metals and plumbing.

    I have a 3/4 (nibco) copper cross fitting that is cast out of a copper alloy that contains 8-9% lead. I would like to use this fitting in a residential project but the lead content haunts me. Things to consider.

    1) Old house with brass water piping.
    2) Cross fitting has only around 2-square inches of wetted surface.

    Maybe I'm foolish to worry about this small fitting in light of the old brass present throughout the house. Some say that over time, old brass becomes plated with minerals sealing in the lead.

    Idea: Plate the inside of the cross fitting with lead free solder (tin,copper bismuth, & silver), sealing off the lead. Sounds good.......however bismuth & silver has been shown to be toxic to human health. Will they migrate out or are they tightly bound in the solder?

    Have any of you gone down this road? I'd like to resolve this and move on!

  2. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Cave Creek, Arizona
    I think you are a victim of hyperbole, foisted by those who have a economic interest in eliminating lead from brass. As stated by a recent editorial in one of the trade magazines, lead free brass is "brittle". One company started making lead free gas fittings and had to recalll them due to failures. His recommendation was to only use lead free brass where you had to, namely in potable water systems. I have never bought into the claim that lead could "continually" leach out of the brass without causing visible deterioration of the fitting, which seldom, if ever, happens.
  3. xlr8tion

    xlr8tion P.E. (Professional Engineer)

    All that Lead.....


    That's interesting info as Merrill tries to push their Sintered Bronze as the No Lead Tank Tee/Cross option to ~3% leaded Bronze.

    Is CA the only state that mandates No Lead and whats the impact of all the leaded bronze tank tees/crosses found in potable setups in peoples homes? It must be a negligible risk as most every bronze tee/cross is leaded.
    And a 1000 gram fitting would have 30 grams of lead dispersed through the whole Tee/Cross-obviously the only Lead leached would be at the H20/Bronze internal interface so that 30 grams is moot.

  4. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Cave Creek, Arizona
    You are too logical for the "sky is falling" and "everyone is going to die from lead poisoning" groups. In the first place copper, brass, and solder joints develop a patina shortly after installation, so the water seldom, if ever, actually touches the "lead", and that's assuming the joints are made properly so the solder gets to the bottom of the joint where the water is, and there a "jillions" of joints where that did not happen.
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