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Overview of regulations for lead levels in drinking water system components
Overview of regulations for lead levels in drinking water system components
Overview of regulations for lead levels in drinking water system components
Overview of regulations for lead levels in drinking water system components
Overview of regulations for lead levels in drinking water system components
Overview of regulations for lead levels in drinking water system components
Overview of regulations for lead levels in drinking water system components
Overview of regulations for lead levels in drinking water system components
Overview of regulations for lead levels in drinking water system components
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Overview of regulations for lead levels in drinking water system components

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Since the establishment of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) more than 35 years ago, the safety of the U.S. drinking water supply has been an ongoing priority for health regulatory officials. …

Since the establishment of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) more than 35 years ago, the safety of the U.S. drinking water supply has been an ongoing priority for health regulatory officials. Starting with a list of just 25 potential contaminants in 1974, federal regulations administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) currently identify maximum concentration levels in drinking water for more than 100 different chemicals. In addition, a number of individual states and local jurisdictions have implemented requirements to ensure the safety of drinking water from source to tap.

While the list of regulated chemicals in drinking water expands as new potential contaminants are identified, the presence of lead continues to receive special scrutiny. Lead is not normally found in source water, but can enter drinking water systems through the corrosion of the pipes and plumbing fixtures. Therefore, regulatory efforts to reduce the presence of lead in drinking water primarily focus on the lead content of drinking water system components.

Among the most recent efforts in this area is the passage of the federal Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act signed into law by President Barack Obama in January 2011. The new law redefines “lead-free” under the SDWA to further restrict permissible levels of lead in drinking water system components. In this case, federal action follows the implementation of strict regulations in California and Vermont, where tighter limits on lead content have been in place since early 2010, and in Maryland where similar restrictions become effective in January 2012.

While the complete implementation of these recent regulatory changes will play out over the next few years, the trend toward increased regulation of the lead content of drinking water system components is clear. Yet, confusion still exists among manufacturers and distributors regarding federal and state requirements for lead content in drinking water system components, and what steps manufacturers should take to ensure that their products are compliant now and in the future.

This white paper from UL presents an overview of the federal and state requirements governing the lead content in drinking water system components. It also reviews and discusses the standards and testing protocols that currently apply to these products as well as anticipated changes in the current standards. Finally, the paper identifies the likely enforcement mechanisms for lead content regulations and outlines compliance options for manufacturers.

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  • 1. An Overview of Regulations forLead Levels in Drinking WaterSystem Components
  • 2. Lead Levels in Drinking Water System ComponentsAn Overview of Regulations for Lead Levelsin Drinking Water System ComponentsSince the establishment of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) more than 35 yearsago, the safety of the U.S. drinking water supply has been an ongoing priority for healthregulatory officials. Starting with a list of just 25 potential contaminants in 1974, federalregulations administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) currentlyidentify maximum concentration levels in drinking water for more than 100 differentchemicals. In addition, a number of individual states and local jurisdictions haveimplemented requirements to ensure the safety of drinking water from source to tap.While the list of regulated chemicals in drinking water expands as new potentialcontaminants are identified, the presence of lead continues to receive special scrutiny.Lead is not normally found in source water, but can enter drinking water systems throughthe corrosion of the pipes and plumbing fixtures. Therefore, regulatory efforts to reducethe presence of lead in drinking water primarily focus on the lead content of drinking watersystem components.Among the most recent efforts in this area is the passage of the federal Reduction of Lead inDrinking Water Act signed into law by President Barack Obama in January 2011. The new lawredefines “lead-free” under the SDWA to further restrict permissible levels of lead in drinkingwater system components. In this case, federal action follows the implementation of strictregulations in California and Vermont, where tighter limits on lead content have been in placesince early 2010, and in Maryland where similar restrictions become effective in January 2012.While the complete implementation of these recent regulatory changes will play out overthe next few years, the trend toward increased regulation of the lead content of drinkingwater system components is clear. Yet, confusion still exists among manufacturers anddistributors regarding federal and state requirements for lead content in drinking watersystem components, and what steps manufacturers should take to ensure that theirproducts are compliant now and in the future.This white paper from UL presents an overview of the federal and state requirementsgoverning the lead content in drinking water system components. It also reviews anddiscusses the standards and testing protocols that currently apply to these products aswell as anticipated changes in the current standards. Finally, the paper identifies the likelyenforcement mechanisms for lead content regulations and outlines compliance optionsfor manufacturers.page 2
  • 3. Lead Levels in Drinking Water System ComponentsFederal Regulations on Lead minimize the risk of the contaminants.in Drinking Water System UL’s Involvement in As originally implemented, the SDWAComponents required public water systems to minimize Development of PbAlthough lead has been used extensively lead concentrations by controlling the Standards and Testingfor thousands of years in a wide range of corrosion that resulted in lead leaching • Ensure safety of U.S. water supplyhousehold products, including plumbing from the water system infrastructure. and has played a key role in thematerials and paint, it is a potent, Typically, such control was achieved development of standards andneurotoxic metal that accumulates in through careful management of the testing protocols regarding lead.both soft tissue and bones. Even low-level water’s mineral content, acidity and • Evaluation of products andexposure can lead to a range of adverse temperature as well as through the proper materials for lead content ashealth effects, including brain, nervous maintenance and replacement of the part of the Restricted Substancesystem and blood disorders. According to water system’s piping. Compliance Solutions program.the EPA, children six years old and younger But while effective in controlling lead • Contribute expertise inare at greatest risk, since exposure can concentrations after the fact, this development of lead contentadversely affect brain development, approach did little to control the original requirements for evaluatingleading to learning disabilities and source of the lead found in drinking water, products against the newbehavior problems1. that is, the pipes and fittings used in the California regulations.Concentrations of lead found in drinking installation and repair of public water systems. It also did not address plumbing • Interpreted the California law aswater do not usually derive from natural fixtures found in residences and other also requiring manufacturers tosources. Instead, the most common extensions of public water systems. test their products as part of thecause of lead concentrations in water is initial certification of drinkingdue to contamination from the gradual To address these and other concerns, water system components.corrosion of water supply pipes and the SDWA was amended in 1986. Underplumbing fixtures as well as the solder or • Published Subject Outline 116875 a new Section 1417, the amended SDWAflux used in their installation and repair. – Lead (Pb) Content Verification Of mandated that all pipes, solders, pipeAccordingly, most current regulatory Products In Contact With Potable fittings and plumbing fixtures used inefforts to control lead in drinking water Water, which contained material the installation or repair of any publicfocus primarily on reducing the lead testing requirements for lead. water system, or any residential orcontent of these system components. nonresidential facility that provides water • Support the development of a for human consumption be “lead-free.” new industry standard that wouldFederal efforts to control concentrations Under the SDWA lead-free restrictions, address the lead content testingof lead and other contaminants in pipes and fittings were limited to not requirements.drinking water began in 1974 with the more than 8.0% lead, and solders and flux • Provide manufacturers with a clearpassage of the SDWA. Under the SDWA, could not contain more than 0.20% lead path to demonstrate compliancethe EPA is mandated to set enforceable by weight. In addition, plumbing fittings with existing and anticipate statemaximum containment levels (MCLs) and fixtures were limited to not more and federal requirements.for contaminants. Public water systems than 4.0% (measured by dry weight)are then required to ensure that the • Exemplify the historic mission to after Aug. 6, 2001.concentrations of contaminants in protect the safety and health oftheir water supplies comply with the The EPA’s control over the lead content of consumers in the United StatesMCLs, most often by using suitable drinking water systems and components and around the world.technologies to treat the water and to was further strengthened in 1996, withpage 3
  • 4. Lead Levels in Drinking Water System Componentsan additional amendment to Section 1417 At the same time, the Act retains the including Vermont and Maryland, haveof the SDWA. In addition to requiring 0.20% lead limit for solders and flux first passed comparable laws limiting leadwater systems to issue an annual implemented in 1986 and stipulates a content in plumbing fittings and fixturespublic report on their water quality, the method for calculating the weighted as a way of reducing lead concentrationsamended SDWA established a two-year average lead content. in drinking water, and other states aredeadline for the creation of a voluntary evaluating legislation with similar import. Exempted from the provisions of thestandard addressing maximum leaching Act are pipes and plumbing fixtures In California, AB 1953 was the first statelevels for lead used in plumbing fittings that are used exclusively for nonpotable effort to implement limits on leadand fixtures. The amended law also gave water services, such as those found in content in plumbing fittings and fixturesthe EPA temporary enforcement authority manufacturing and industrial processing that were more restrictive than federalagainst noncompliant plumbing fittings applications, and for those used in requirements. AB 1953 became law inand fixtures. outdoor irrigation and watering systems. September 2006, with an effective Also exempt are toilets, bidets, urinals, enforcement date of Jan. 1, 2010. The lawThe 2011 Reduction of Lead flushometer valves, shower valves and has been codified in the state’s Health water distribution main gate valves two and Safety Code (HSC), Section 116875,in Drinking Water Act inches or larger in diameter. and falls under the jurisdiction of theThe most recent development in federal California Department of Toxic Substancesregulations governing the lead content The provisions of the federal Reduction Control (DTSC).of drinking water system components is of Lead in Drinking Water Act come intothe enactment of the Reduction of Lead effect in January 2014. However, more The key change mandated by AB 1953 isin Drinking Water Act, signed into law restrictive state limits are already in the reduction of lead in wetted surfacesby President Barack Obama in January effect in California and Vermont, and of pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings20112. The Act effectively reduces the new lead content restrictions are set to and fixtures to a weighted average ofpermissible lead content in plumbing take effect in Maryland in January 2012. not more than 0.25% (the 0.20% leadfittings and fixtures by further modifying Therefore, in an effort to achieve market content limit for solder and flux remainedthe SDWA definition of lead-free. acceptance in these and other states, it is unchanged). Further, as implementedHowever, rather than setting new lead anticipated that manufacturers will bring under HSC 116875, “no person shalllimit benchmarks, the Act effectively their products into compliance with the introduce into commerce any pipe, pipebrings federal lead content limits in line new federal lead content limits as soon or plumbing fitting, or fixture intendedwith those already in force in California as possible. to convey or dispense water for humanand Vermont and adopts lead content consumption through drinking or cookingassessment protocols consistent with State Regulations on Lead that is not ‘lead-free’3 .”those developed in support of these state in Drinking Water System As originally written, AB 1953 contained noregulatory efforts. Components provisions regarding the implementationUnder the Reduction of Lead in Drinking As previously noted, recent federal efforts or enforcement of its more restrictiveWater Act, the SDWA definition of the to reduce the lead content of plumbing lead content limits for plumbing fittingsterm lead-free has been modified to fittings and fixtures have followed the and fixtures. These issues were partiallyreduce the maximum lead content to lead of state jurisdictions. The most addressed by subsequent legislation in“not more than a weighted average of notably developments have occurred in 2008, specifically California Senate Bill0.25% (lead) when used with respect California, beginning with the passage of (SB) 1395 and SB 1334. SB 1395 grants theto the wetted surfaces of pipes, pipe California Assembly Bill 1953 (AB 1953) in DTSC the authority to annually test up tofittings, plumbing fittings, and fixtures.” September 2006. Since then, other states, 75 faucet, fitting and fixture samples forpage 4
  • 5. Lead Levels in Drinking Water System Componentscompliance with AB 1953’s lead content have a reasonable basis for believing that Applicable Standardslimits and to post the results of that a particular product is compliant before and Testing Protocolstesting on its website. Under the law, selling or installing it6.” While a number of states have movedthe DTSC must use “test methods, In Maryland, House Bill 372 was signed quickly over the past few years to enactprotocols, and sample preparation into law by Governor Martin O’Malley in regulations aimed at reducing theprocedures that are adequate to May 2010 and takes effect on January 1, lead content of plumbing products,determine total lead concentration in a 2012. The Maryland lead-free materials implementation of these regulationsdrinking water plumbing fitting or fixture law limits the lead content of specified generally depends on the developmentto determine compliance with the lead plumbing materials to levels consistent of standards and testing protocolscontent standards4 .” with the current laws in California and that support manufacturers’ efforts toOf potentially even greater importance to Vermont, and prohibits the installation comply with new limits. Further, effectivemanufacturers, California SB 1334 requires of a plumbing fixture or device that does enforcement of both state and federalthat all plumbing products that come in not comply with the lead content limits. requirements largely depends on updatingcontact with potable water be certified by Importantly, the law authorizes the applicable plumbing and buildingan independent third-party accredited by Maryland State Board of Plumbing codes to reflect standards developmentthe American National Standards Institute to modify the state’s plumbing code in efforts. Although efforts to develop(ANSI). Such third party certification must order to implement and enforce the new standards and update applicableinclude the testing of plumbing products new requirements7. codes usually lag the pace of regulations,consistent with the testing methods As previously noted, the current laws in standards development groups and codeand protocols used by the DTSC. As California and Vermont governing the lead officials have worked energetically withimplemented under California HSC 116875, content of plumbing fittings and fixtures industry to provide appropriate guidancethe product certification provisions of SB as well as pending laws in Maryland to manufacturers seeking compliance1334 became mandatory as of Jan. 1, 20105 . and other states are likely to lead with the lower lead content requirementsIn Vermont, the Lead in Consumer manufacturers to seek compliance with for plumbing fittings and fixtures.Products Law, Act 193, implements reduced lead content limits well ahead ANSI/NSF 61 was first published in 1988lead content restrictions for plumbing of the January 2014 implementation to establish minimum requirements forfittings and fixtures consistent with date of the federal Reduction of Lead products that contact drinking water inthose in California and with the new in Drinking Water Act. In addition, even order to prevent adverse health effectsfederal limits under the Reduction of without federal certification requirements in humans from the unintentionalLead in Drinking Water Act, i.e., not more regarding the lead content of plumbing ingestion of metallic and non-metallicthan a weighted average of 0.25% for products, California’s mandate for contaminants, including lead. Theplumbing fixtures and 0.20% for solder third-party certification establishes a de standard includes criteria for evaluatingor flux used in plumbing. Under Vermont facto national testing and certification193, which came into effect on Jan. 1, requirement, since most manufacturers a wide range of plumbing products,2010, noncompliant plumbing fittings or will likely seek a single approval path including pipes and related products, andfixtures may not be sold or offered for sale that covers both federal and state mechanical plumbing devices.in or into Vermont or installed in Vermont. requirements. For that reason, it is The requirements found in modelUnlike California’s requirements, Act 193 important to understand the standards plumbing codes like the IPC and thedoes not require plumbing supplies to be and testing protocols that support UPC are often the basis for plumbingcertified by an independent third-party third-party certification of lead content in regulations in local jurisdictions. Theselaboratory to be legally sold in Vermont. plumbing fittings and fixtures. requirements are typically incorporatedHowever, “sellers and installers mustpage 5
  • 6. Lead Levels in Drinking Water System Componentsby reference in local building and revised standards by national code material lead content analysis. Further,plumbing regulations, and local plumbing organizations can take years. Since the the scope of the standard applies “toinspectors effectively enforce these product scope and testing requirements any drinking water system componentrequirements through the permitting of California AB 1953 were not consistent that conveys or dispenses water forprocess and follow-up inspections. The with those of ANSI/NSF 61, oversight and human consumption through drinkingadoption of ANSI/NSF 61 by both the IPC enforcement of the requirements through or cooking,10” mirroring the scope ofand the UPC enabled enforcement of the the local plumbing code system would AB 1953. Because ANSI/NSF 372 does notSDWA by leveraging the oversight and not be possible. address contaminants other than lead, itinfrastructure already in place through can be used in those jurisdictions which In partial response to these challenges,local plumbing officials and inspectors. have adopted requirements similar to the NSF Joint Committee on Drinking those in California, but which do notIn this context, the passage of California Water Additives was tasked with mandate compliance with ANSI/NSF 61.AB 1953 in 2006 presented several amending ANSI/NSF 61 to incorporatechallenges for both manufacturers and criteria for the weighted average lead With the introduction of ANSI/NSF 372,code officials. First, the testing method content requirement of AB 1953. The Annex G of ANSI/NSF 61 hasdescribed in ANSI/NSF 61 assessed the result of this effort was the development been revised to reference ANSI/NSF 372content of lead and other regulated of Annex G for ANSI/NSF 61 published in for the evaluation of the weightedsubstances by measuring the amount of January 2009. Intended to be used average lead content and lead contentcontaminants that leached from tested in conjunction with ANSI/NSF 61, material analysis. This change makesproducts into water. But ANSI/NSF 61 Annex G defined a method for ANSI/NSF 372 the primary standarddid not specify analytical methods or calculating the weighted average lead regarding lead content in drinkingprotocols that would allow manufacturers content of a product, consistent with water system components. 9to directly measure the lead content of the requirements of AB 1953 .the materials themselves, consistent However, while the publication ofwith the weighted average lead content Annex G provided a method forrequirements of AB 1953. calculating lead content, it did not expandSecond, the scope of products covered the scope of ANSI/NSF 61 to includeunder ANSI/NSF 61 was more limited than the full range of products identifiedthat covered under the California law. in the California law. More important,The requirements of ANSI/NSF 61 applied Annex G failed to define specific testingprimarily to plumbing products. But AB requirements and methods for analyzing1953 (as codified in HSC Section 116875) the lead content of materials. So the NSFapplies to “any pipe, pipe or plumbing Joint Committee turned its attention tofitting, or fixture intended to convey or the development of a new standard thatdispense water for human consumption would address these shortcomings. The 8through drinking or cooking, ” and some result was the development of ANSI/NSFinterpretations of the law have included 372 – Drinking Water System Components,items as diverse as hot water heaters and Lead Content released in late 2010.fire hydrants. ANSI/NSF 372 contains the lead contentFinally, updating industry standards to evaluation procedure originally detailedreflect regulatory changes is a lengthy in ANSI/NSF 61 Annex G, as well as testingprocess, and the adoption by new and requirements and methodologies forpage 6
  • 7. Lead Levels in Drinking Water System ComponentsAnticipated Enforcement and requirements already in force in California content requirements in force inCompliance Efforts and Vermont and the certification California and Vermont. Taking such requirements in force in California. As action ensures compliance with theAt the national level, integrating ANSI/ previously noted, the California DTSC regulations already in place in thoseNSF 372 into national plumbing codes has the authority to test up to 75 faucet, states as well as those scheduled to takeand applicable product performancestandards is likely to take some time. fitting and fixture samples annually effect in Maryland in January 2012 andRevisions to the 2012 edition of the UPC for compliance with that state’s lead nationwide in January 2014 under theand IPC have already been completed, and content limits, and to post the results revised SDWA lead-free limits.the underlying performance standards on its website. The DTSC’s “Interim To ensure continued legal access to thefor plumbing products are now being Drinking Water Plumbing Products California marketplace, manufacturersupdated to reference ANSI/NSF 372. It Sampling and Evaluation Strategy and whose products come in contact withis expected that these changes will be Procedures” provides manufactures with potable water are also having theircompleted in time for the January 2014 detailed information on its sampling and products tested and certified by animplementation date of the provisions evaluation process11. accredited third-party, consistentof the federal Reduction of Lead in Designing multiple versions of a product with that state’s requirements. SomeDrinking Water Act, thereby providing for different markets is a complex and testing laboratories (including UL) arethe necessary mechanism to achieve inefficient proposition for product offering testing and certification toenforcement through local plumbing designers and manufacturers. ANSI/NSF 372 for those manufacturersofficials and inspectors. Therefore, many manufacturers of exclusively interested in certifyingIn the meantime, manufacturers of products that come in contact with product compliance with leaddrinking water system components potable water have already redesigned content requirements.are still subject to the lead content their products to comply with the leadpage 7
  • 8. Lead Levels in Drinking Water System ComponentsFlowchart: Decision Tree for Determining the Need for Compliance to the Reduction of Lead inDrinking water Act Via ANSI/NSF 372 Certification Product does not need to demonstrate Does the product come in compliance with the new law. No contact with drinking water? Yes Product does not need to demonstrate Is the product connected to the compliance with the new law. No potable water distribution system? Yes Is the product a toilet, bidet, urinal, Product does not need to demonstrate fill valve, shower valve, service saddle, compliance with the new law. Yes or water distribution main gate valve larger than 2 inches? No Certification to NSF 372 is requiredThese requirements cover the evaluation of wetted surfaces of products, components, and materials that convey or dispense water that is intended for humanconsumption by drinking or cooking for lead (Pb) content.These requirements do not cover other health risk aspects of these products, components, and materials such as contaminants that may leach into the waterfrom materials of which the product is manufactured.The final acceptance of a product, component, or material is dependent upon its compliance with the requirements and standards that a local, state, federal,or other jurisdictional body has defined for the product or component.All products that are covered by the scope of ANSI/NSF Standard 61 will require certification to ANSI/NSF372.Figure 1: This flowchart depicts a process to assess whether certification requirements apply to specific drinking water system components,and details the prescribed testing sequence.As previously noted, California’s certification federal and state requirements. In addition compliant with the new lead-free limits andrequirement is likely to create a defacto to easing the product compliance process, contributes to the overall safety of drinkingnational testing and certification third-party certification also provides water. Therefore, manufacturers can realizerequirement, since most manufacturers will confidence to distributors, retailers and tangible benefits from having their productsseek a single approval path that covers both consumers that a manufacturer’s product is certified by an accredited testing laboratory.page 8
  • 9. Lead Levels in Drinking Water System ComponentsSummaryRegulatory efforts to minimize the lead content in drinking water are currently focusedon reducing the lead content in drinking water system components and all otherproducts that come in contact with potable water. While new national lead-free limitswill go into effect in 2014, strict state limits and testing requirements are already inforce. Manufacturers are quickly working to bring their products into compliance, andobtaining the product certifications necessary to comply with specific state regulations.Taking such steps will ensure uninterrupted market access, provide competitiveadvantage and contribute to the health of consumers.For more information about the “An Overview of Regulations for Lead Levels in DrinkingWater System Components” white paper, please contact Tom Bowman,program manager, UL Water Systems Program, at Thomas.A.Bowman@us.ul.comor Jeff Hebenstreit, UL principal engineer, Drinking Water Systems, atJeffrey.R.Hebenstreit@us.ul.com.References1. “Basic Information about Lead in Drinking Water,” Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)website, http://water.epa.gov/drink/contaminants/basicinformation/lead.cfm (last accessed April 16, 2011)2. “Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act,” January 4, 2011,http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=s111-3874 (last accessed on April 17, 2011)3. California Health and Safety Code (HSC), Section 116875, Part b1,http://www.dtsc.ca.gov/PollutionPrevention/upload/Lead_in_Plumbing_HSC_116875.pdf (last accessed on May 12, 2011)4. California Senate Bill (SB) 1395, 2008, http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/07-08/bill/sen/sb_1351-1400/sb_1395_bill_20080929_chaptered.html (last accessed on May 12, 2011)5. “Lead in Plumbing,” California Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC)website, http://www.dtsc.ca.gov/PollutionPrevention/LeadInPlumbing.cfm (last accessed on April 18, 2011)6. “Lead in Consumer Products Law: Vermont Attorney General’s Guidance on Plumbing Supplies (11/18/09),” November 18, 2009,Office of the Attorney General, State of Vermont website, http://www.atg.state.vt.us/assets/files/LeadinPlumbing.pdf (lastaccessed on April 18, 2011)7. Maryland Chapter Number 407, http://mlis.state.md.us/2010rs/billfile/HB0372.htm (last accessed on April 18, 2011)8. California Health and Safety Code (HSC), Section 116875, Part b1,http://www.dtsc.ca.gov/PollutionPrevention/upload/Lead_in_Plumbing_HSC_116875.pdf (last accessed on May 12, 2011)9. Annex G, NSF Standard 61 – Drinking Water System Components,http://www.nsf.org/business/water_distribution/pdf/AnnexG.pdf (last accessed on April 20, 2011)10. ANSI/NSF 372 – Drinking Water System Components, Lead Content, 201011. “Interim Drinking Water Plumbing Products Sampling and Evaluate Strategy and Procedures,” April 22, 2010, CaliforniaDepartment of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC)website, http://dtsc.ca.gov/PollutionPrevention/upload/SamplingStrategies2010-Final.pdf (last accessed on April 21, 2011Copyright©2011 Underwriters Laboratories Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this document may be copied or distributed withoutthe prior written consent of Underwriters Laboratories Inc. 5/11page 9

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