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Typical (brass) plumbing fixtures will explicitly state that they are lead free and be certified NSF-61, potable water, etc.

However, most stainless steel plumbing parts (like ball valves and schedule 40 pipe and fixtures, etc.) make no mention of potable water, lead, drinking, etc.

Assuming I source from US distributors (mcmaster, for instance) is it safe to assume that stainless steel plumbing fixtures are lead free, or even "zero lead" and are totally safe for drinking water ?

Thanks.

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    Why would there be lead in stainless steel to begin with? Jan 10 '20 at 4:06
  • @ThreePhaseEel My gut feeling is "stainless steel should never have lead problems". But if I were installing somewhere that it is a "big deal", having certification of that (as with brass) would be very helpful. Jan 10 '20 at 4:33
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    I guess you realize that in the US, "lead free" is defined in the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act as "a maximum weighted lead content of 0.25% on the wetted surface." It doesn't mean zero lead.
    – Greg Hill
    Jan 10 '20 at 5:10
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    Does the product data sheet indicate it is fit for potable water? Jan 10 '20 at 6:39
  • Stainless plumbing hardware usually tells you the stainless alloy used, generally 304 or 316, and then you can use that to look up exactly what's in it. For example, here's the info on 304 Stainless: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SAE_304_stainless_steel
    – Nate S.
    Feb 5 at 17:45
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Just to be a smart azz if you check prop 65 stainless has chromium way worse some say.

To be truthful about lead stainless has no lead. Stainless has issues , have you ever seen a stainless boat? But for drinking water I would verify the seals were safe more than the metal. but as far as lead I would not be concerned.

Just for fun ; For many years 60/40 solder was used with copper plumbing but back in the 70’s we changed to non lead solder on water pipes for copper but at that time plastic pvc and cpvc became the standard of it was not copper , prior to this it was galvanized, and prior to galvanized lead pipe was commonI have found lead water supply pipes in homes that were pre 20’s but mostly only drains after that time.

To answer your question stainless will not have lead , but verify the seals are potable this is the maybe in my answer.

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  • Thing with chromium is that it's only harmful in its fully oxidized state (Cr(VI)), Cr(III) is a nothingburger and so is the plain metallic chromium that's a component in stainless steel. Jan 10 '20 at 12:44
  • I do know that as I said as a joke.
    – Ed Beal
    Jan 10 '20 at 19:09
  • According to Prop 65, the State of California is known to cause health issues... :/
    – FreeMan
    Jun 9 '20 at 13:18
  • @ThreePhaseEel Well, whatever is strong enough to rip the Cr out from stainless steel is also strong enough to bully it into not leaving with more than a minimum of electrons... Oct 8 '20 at 12:17
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Stainless steel alloys do not normally contain lead.

Even plumbing fittings that do contain lead are not normally dangerous because the amount of lead that leaches into water is negligible.

In general, for a lead contamination to occur, the liquid must be exposed to the lead for long periods of time (months) or the lead must be available in a soluable form, such as a lead oxide. Unless you are drinking water from old pipes entirely made of lead, that is unlikely to happen.

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  • Unless you're pumping water from the Flint River through it.
    – Nate S.
    Feb 5 at 17:47

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