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Old 02-04-2011, 03:32 AM   #1
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Carcinogens in brass fittings?

Hello to everyone. I've recently begun a crafts project using various plumbing fittings, among which are brass nipple, couplings, tees, etc.

I hear different opinions about coatings that the brass fittings have, so that they don't erode so quickly. One is cadmium, which is known to cause cancer.

Is such a thing ever used with brass fittings used in plumbing? Either as a coating, or as a component in the brass alloy. Or is it just for things like brass doorknobs or other brass items that don't carry potable water.

Does anyone have the bottom line on this one?

I'm not asking about lead. I've done my research on that one.

Thanks in advance!


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Old 02-04-2011, 08:29 AM   #2
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I've hear of cadmium used as plating in cheap costume jewelry to make it look like silver--

Never heard of that being used on brass plumbing fittings----


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Old 02-04-2011, 08:44 AM   #3
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I've recently begun a crafts project using various plumbing fittings
aka paraphernalia???

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Old 02-04-2011, 02:41 PM   #4
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Carcinogens in brass fittings?

Thanks o'mike. It wouldn't make sense for cadmium to be a coating for fittings that carry water and such. But such brass outside of CA and Vermont still has significant lead content. So I didn't want to make any assumptions.
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Old 02-05-2011, 10:37 PM   #5
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Carcinogens in brass fittings?

If you visit (the particular page is just an example),

see the PEX couplings, or search for tees as well. It doesn't say so on the web site (I didn't see it),

but the package at Home Depot says, and I quote:

"This product contains a chemical known to the State of CA to cause cancer , birth defects or other reproductive harm. Plumber: CA law requires that this notice be provided to the consumer."

I mention the site, because the couple of items I purchased at Home Depot actually aren't found on their site.

Two specific Items I bought at Home Depot, that are on the site:

3/8" x 3/8" straight coupling: Part #: UC006LF
3/8" x 3/8" x 3/8" tee: Part #: UC360LF

So, I ask again....what's up with carcinogens in brass fittings for plumbing? And I'm wondering now that this is the case even if packaging doesn't mention it.
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Old 02-06-2011, 12:47 AM   #6
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I've never heard about carcinogens in plumbing fittings. They're brass fittings, not plated with anything. If they were chromed like the bumper on a 1960's car I'd share your concerns, but they aren't.

As far as the California warning....The rest of the civilized world tends to roll our eyes at the California health warnings on just about every product of every kind on the market.
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Old 02-06-2011, 01:23 AM   #7
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Carcinogens in brass fittings?

I agree about CA. There's a sign in my apartment elevator saying something similar, e.g. there are chemicals somewhere in the building that cause cancer.

Forgot to mention in my last reply that I went to Home Depot, who sells lots of Watts brass fittings. Every one of them has a cancer warning on the paper insert within the little plastic thing. And every PEX brass fitting has the warning on the back of the package.

Next time you're in a Home Depot and have you have a sec to take a look, I'd be curious.

My concern is not so much about cancer itself, but that the law says that I have to disclose the warning to customers. Any sentence with the word "cancer" isn't a pleasant one.
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Old 02-06-2011, 01:50 AM   #8
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I have heard of lead being in brass fittings for tooling purposes, but it seems the average house key may be dangerous-

In October 1999 the California State Attorney General sued 13 key manufacturers and distributors over lead content. In laboratory tests, state researchers found the average brass key, new or old, exceeded the California Proposition 65 limits by an average factor of 19, assuming handling twice a day.[14] In April 2001 manufacturers agreed to reduce lead content to 1.5%, or face a requirement to warn consumers about lead content. Keys plated with other metals are not affected by the settlement, and may continue to use brass alloys with higher percentage of lead content.[15][16]
Also in California, lead-free materials must be used for "each component that comes into contact with the wetted surface of pipes and pipe fittings, plumbing fittings and fixtures." On January 1, 2010, the maximum amount of lead in "lead-free brass" in California was reduced from 4% to 0.25% lead. The common practice of using pipes for electrical grounding is discouraged, as it accelerates lead corrosion.


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