This past November 2009, California signed into law AB 1953 / SB 1334 & 1395 / HSC Section 116875 and as a result directly affected the sales of all water filter and purification systems to the state. This revised “no lead law” as it’s commonly known, went into effect on January 1, 2010. Currently this law prevents any Berkey water filter from being sold to the state of California, and canvasses all Berkey products that comes in contact with water intended for drinking. This would include upper/lower chambers, all filters, and sport bottles.
The law stipulates that any “end-use device intended to convey or dispense water for human consumption through drinking or cooking,” as well as each of their individual components, materials and “pipe, pipe or plumbing fittings, or fixtures,” or flux, must be “lead free” as defined by California law. Under SB 1334, certification MUST be performed by an “independent ANSI-approved third party testing organization.” It appears that even if a product and each component of that product has no metal alloys and if a purification system actually reduces lead, under Section 116875, it must be be certified. An example of this would be the Berkey sport water purification bottle.
The Berkey sport bottle body utilizes LDPE, which must be certified, even though it is common knowledge that LDPE contains no lead, is very commonly used by food and water companies, and is monitored under federal regulations. Further, manufacturers are expected to reveal proprietary information regarding their systems, suppliers and manufacturers, without an absolute guarantee that such proprietary information will be kept confidential. This is of utmost concern due to the fact that if such proprietary information is conveyed to competitors, we would have no recourse. It also worth noting that if Berkey water filters desires to change any of their suppliers after certification, it appears that permission must be obtained by the certifying organization and that re-certification is mandatory, all at the expense of the company. Change of suppliers is a common occurrence as improvement of the Berkey product line is continually occurring.
Research indicates that there are at least two different certification standards available, but there seems to be disagreement as to which standards are acceptable to the state of California’s review Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), the agency in charge of reviewing products and their certification. There is further confusion regarding testing protocols. While DTSC has issued an outline, it appears that the final protocols have yet to be settled upon. Throughout Berkey water filters ongoing research on this issue, they were unable to get clarification on the above requirements, instead it was suggested that “lawyers review the wording of the law to determine” how “they interpret the scope of the mandatory certification...”. Unfortunately, many questions were not answered by the January 1st deadline and as such, “strict compliance with the law” was recommended and is now being adhered to.
Here's an example of one of the requirements:
…Listee shall promptly furnish to CC, in writing, the street address, hours of operation, anticipated dates when plants will be temporarily closed or shut down, anticipated dates when plants will temporarily cease production and all local or state holidays of each plant where the listed product is being manufactured or to be manufactured by or on behalf of Listee, and each location where the listed product is warehoused or stored by or on behalf of Listee. Listee shall also provide the name and telephone number of a contact person for each such plant or storage location, both at the time of application for evaluation and in the event of any changes in this information. Listee shall provide such information for all plants and storage locations, whether foreign or domestic. If the product is imported or to be imported, Listee shall also provide the name, street address, telephone number and contact person of the importer and the consignee…
Note: Berkey Water Filters does not have manufacturing plants or warehouses in the state of CA
This revised law has put the burden of proof on the manufacturer and is understandable, however the great additional expense will be difficult for Berkey water filters to absorb into the cost structure. To be clear, Berkey products do not contain lead and testing results from NSF/ANSI certified labs show that these systems reduce lead in water. If every state were to establish their own specific overarching certification criteria such as CA, small companies like Berkey would not be able to meet these requirements and would be put out of business.
Big Berkey Water Filters will continue to monitor the situation and hopefully gain clarification on the issues for which there are currently no definite answers. While many water purification and water filter companies are ignoring the law due to it's vagueness, there is no interest on Berkey's behalf to go this route. Berkey water filters considers it a high priority to support the tens of thousands of current CA customers in addition to potential future customer who have interest in the product and hope to come to a resolution soon.