PVC pipe: does it poison water?

There have been some questions regarding toxins leaching from the pvc piping used in the filters described on the website referred to in this blog. Because of construction requirements we are limited as to our choices. Copper pipe has adverse effects that are already known and established. I have done some research on the pvc pipe issue. There are contaminants in water from pvc and cpvc pipes. The levels vary from barely detectable to detectable, but the chemicals are quite toxic.:
www.mindfully.org/Plastic/Organotin-EP.htm
That said, copper has its own problems: www.drlwilson.com/articles/copper_toxicity_syndrome.htm
And chemicals added to water compound the problem
I guess pick your poison! As far as toxins, perhaps poly-pipe, stainless steel, or bamboo would be the best choice, followed by cast iron pipes. These have their challenges as far as construction. And bamboo shoots contain cyanide:
www.inspection.gc.ca/english/fssa/concen/specif/fruvegtoxe.shtml
Also, bamboo will present considerable challenges in freezing weather and in construction – for example how to get the bamboo through the container and seal it? Bamboo is strong, but it is organic and will eventually decompose.
The situation regarding chemical toxins in water from pipes is very complex. The nature of the contamination will depend on the ph of the water, the temperature, the mineral content of the water, the length of time the water is in contact with the pipe, the types of bacteria in the water, and the disinfectants used, Probably the best option would be stainless steel or tempered glass. Stainless steel pipes would be way too expensive and glass, even though it be tempered glass, would be impractical. Poly pipe is probably the best choice if a person is concerned about toxins:
www.plasticpipe.org/municipal_pipe/potable_water.html
Well, that is, until a way is found to identify toxins that leach from HDPE plastics! It is important to realize that all water with the exception of distilled water, has more than just H20 in it. That pristine natural spring, high in the mountains, away from all the “toxic” stuff, has dissolved minerals in it. There is no way around that. Most of those minerals are harmless, as far as science knows. Some of them are not. It just depends on the concentration and the type. Until we know all possible contaminants and all possible effects I will probably continue to use pvc pipe.
However, I am 62 years old. Someone with children will probably want to use the stainless steel pipes, in fact they may want to have their house re-plumbed with stainless steel – however then, they should be prepared to take out a second or third mortgage to have that done. I would suggest to those concerned: a good idea would be to check into where your water comes from and what pipes bring it in to your house – most likely it is pvc. If it comes from a reservoir, the pipe may be anything and anything may be in the reservoir. Some reservoirs are sealed with petroleum derivatives. My educated guess is, that it is probably possible to make pvc piping safe, but doing that will reduce profits and make shareholders unhappy.

This entry was posted in slow sand water filter study and construction. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to PVC pipe: does it poison water?

  1. Sheryl Crow’s Oncologist is supposed to have siad that her cancer was caused by toxins leaching out of a plastic water bottle that she always kept in her car?
    Some agree, some say it is impossible – but then smoking was once said to be good for your health, so I will err on the side of caution.

  2. admin says:

    Good point Rainwater Harvesting! Thank you for the comment. Cast iron pipe, with a stainless steel drain system would probably be a better choice than pvc.

  3. Josh says:

    I remember hearing about this “debate” last year and had a quick look online (I dont drink liquids that have been left lying around in bottles anyway) and remember reading that it was a myth, and that it wasnt possible for toxins to “leach” adn just assumed that it was another scare story that the media had latched onto. Perhaps it’s a topic I should give some more thought. I guess the safest option is this; dont drink bottles of liquids left in the sun. Im not sure why you’d want to anyway! 🙂

  4. This is why I have a three stage water filter on my faucet in the kitchen and I let the water run for a few minutes before filling a glass first thing in the morning. I figure the water has been sitting in the pipes (or in the filter) for 8 hours and some flushing is likely to ensure that cleaner water ends up in my glass. This is also why I only use stainless steel water bottles when I’m on the go.

  5. admin says:

    Thank you for the comment, Lydia. You have really got me thinking now. . . . . I wish everyone used stainless steel bottles for their “water bottle”. Plastic bottles, and plastic water containers in general are not the best water containers from a health standpoint (bpa’s and polyvinyl chlorides) and particularly from an environmental standpoint. A good example of that is the great pacific garbage patch within the pacific gyre . Now maybe the next slow sand filter project should use stainless steel pipes and concrete instead of plastic barrels and pvc pipe and the next test that goes in – well maybe I should test for bpa’s and polyvinyl chlorides?

  6. changing shingle roof using metal, have got allot of ruined locations where gutters as well as eaves are usually… please help… thank you.

  7. Economist with chem minor says:

    PVC pipes are made of Vinyl Chloride (monomer) mixed with a plasticizer, that undergoes chemical reaction, polymerizes or “chain links” together Vinyl Chloride into long chains.
    The plasticizer as well as the monomer are of concern, since these chemicals on their own are toxic, endocrine disruptors and even cancerous! Unreacted DOP, the plasticizer most commonly used in PVC (also called DEHP, di ethyl-hexyl Phtalate, remember the 2011 Taiwan food scare) is a concern as it is a hormone disruptor. HOWEVER, my concern is low because once the reaction occurs, these chemically BOND TOGETHER becoming innocuous plastic. Add to this the fact that DOP is HYDROPHOBIC, it will unlikely mix with as it is like oil. As you know oil and water don’t mix. Do I have PVC plumbing at home? Yes. Is it a major health concern? No, I don’t drink tap water, since I use RO water. And yes, Reverse Osmosis will remove large molecules such as phtalates from your water.

  8. John says:

    Haha, I’m in commercial construction 40 +- yrs. PVC has saved our health In so many ways. No more lead soldier for joints. SS. Is very expensive and the bleach / chlorination in city water would rot it out pretty quickly under pressure. Cast iron can’t handle higher pressure and the un smooth surface would be a garden for your next science experiment..PVC is the way to go. Non corrosive, smooth and flexible. However I would not let water sit in any system more than 48 hrs to avoid leganela growth. Drill a nice well 45′ or deeper . Shower and wash with it, don’t drink it without proper filtration

  9. John says:

    Good job, the separate components are toxic but after the extrusion, PVC. Is the safest way known at present. Always flush the drinking water for a moment, if you have not used it within 24 – 48 hrs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This blog is kept spam free by WP-SpamFree.