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Are PVC Pipes Safe?

Published on September 15, 2003 at 1:48 AM

A reader of the Green Guide was recently wondering if PVC pipes were safe and wanted to know if they leached pthalates into drinking water?

The answer from the Green Guide time was probably no but they raised some interesting points about PVC pipe and it’s hazards.

PVC is hazardous throughout it’s lifecycle and contains additives that are especially harmful when burned. They say that phthalates can leach from PVC treated with softening plasticizers but rigid PVC pipe doesn’t present a phthalate risk. Other additives to worry about include vinyl chloride leaching from pipes made before and 1977 and organotins that are used as stabilizers.

From manufacturing to disposal, PVC has high environmental costs. It contains a high percentage of chlorine, is made with the carcinogen vinyl chloride plus dioxin and ethylene dichloride are by-products of its manufacture. PVC is not readily recyclable and when incinerated releases both the carcinogen dioxin and hydrogen chloride gas.

On the other hand alternatives to PVC pipe are also flawed and PVC is a versatile material. PVC is light, strong and durable. It resists corrosion and is cheap and easy to install.

Source: ENN and The Green Guide

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