Chase Brass & Copper Flourish Under New EPA Regs

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Last January, an amendment to the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) quietly went into effect – but not without major ramifications for the building materials industry.

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The law mandates that all pipe, plumbing fittings, fixtures, solder or flux – basically any plumbing product that touches water for human consumption defined as cooking or drinking – must remain lead-free.

Industry insiders, builders, contractors and the like have long prepared for this law, but the reduction of lead from 8% allowable to a lead-free portion of allowable content or weighted average of 0.25% meant that new market entrants have broken into the space as have old industry participants with new products.

The innovations came about as a response to California’s Proposition 65 (passed in 1986) a precursor to the Safe Drinking Water Act, that mandated the State make available to the public a list of chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects. It also required businesses to notify the public about elevated levels of any of these chemicals in their products sold to the public.

MetalMiner first covered this development back in February 2008 in a story titled “Green Innovations in the Metals Industry”.

And though some new products have quite a long product launch cycle, it appears as though the time has come for green alloys in the brass industry.
Chase Brass & Copper had purchased the exclusive license from Mitsubishi Shindoh to produce and market the Eco Brass product in the North American market in 2005 .

“Eco Brass is the high performance lead free brass alternative for the traditional free machining leaded brass product in the industry,” said Dan Borkowski, Business Development Manager for Chase Brass & Copper Company. Eco Brass is a high performance lead-free, dezincification resistant to chemicals found in water and gas and a highly machinable brass alloy. Other attributes include its high strength, equivalent to stainless steel and compliant with NSF 14, displays excellent stress corrosion cracking resistance. It is also a highly forgeable brass alloy. Unlike other lead free brass alloys, Eco-Brass does not contain Aresenic or Bismuth in its alloy composition.

With a 0.6 percent increase over the past day, the copper cash price was the biggest mover on the LME, closing at $6,975 per metric ton on Monday, June 30. Also on the LME, the copper 3-month price inched up 0.4 percent to $6,938 per metric ton.

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The cash price of primary Japanese copper rose 0.5 percent to JPY 738,000 ($7,275) per metric ton. The price of US copper producer grade 122 weakened by 0.5 percent, settling at $3.84 per pound. The price of US copper producer grade 110 declined 0.5 percent to $3.84 per pound. The price of US copper producer grade 102 saw a 0.5 percent decline to $4.03 per pound.

Chinese copper closed mixed on Monday. After a 0.2 percent increase, Chinese copper bar finished the day at CNY 51,640 ($8,301) per metric ton. The Chinese copper cash price rose 0.2 percent to CNY 51,840 ($8,334) per metric ton. Chinese copper wire saw its price rise 0.2 percent to CNY 50,770 ($8,162) per metric ton. The price of Chinese bright copper scrap saw essentially no change for the fifth day in a row, remaining around CNY 44,300 ($7,121) per metric ton.

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