Plastic water pipes are the pipes that carry water to the faucets and fixtures within our homes and buildings – vary from many other building materials in that they are the only ones that come into direct touch with the water that we drink, cook with, and wash with daily. The materials we use to supply our drinking water are important for our health.
Plastic pipelines have been the preferred material for plumbers and home builders since the 1950s. Plastic plumbing pipes are basically produced from Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride (CPVC), Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) and Polybutylene. They are simple to install and cost-effective. Concerns about the safety of these materials prompted the development of alternatives such as High-Density Polyethene (HDPE) and Cross-Linked Polyethylene (PEX). Water intake pipes can be formed of copper or a variety of plastic materials, and each has a variety of advantages and disadvantages when it comes to human health and the environment.
Types of Water Pipes
Plastic water pipes are normally one of the following types, each with its own set of environmental consequences:
- Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
- Chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC)
- Polypropylene (PP)
- High-density polyethene (HDPE)
- Crosslinked polyethene (PEX)
How are Plastic water pipes manufactured ?
All plastic pipes are created from petroleum, which results in carbon emissions during extraction, transportation, feedstock refinement, and manufacturing. When drinking water comes into touch with pipes, a chemical reaction occurs. Plastic pipes, in general, require more chemicals to be used in their manufacturing than copper pipes, and some of these chemicals can seep from the pipes or break down into other chemicals that leach from the pipes.
PVC and CPVC pipes, for example, are made with organotin stabilisers, which are hazardous to the reproductive system and can leak into drinking water through plastic taps. While guidelines such as the NSF International Drinking Water standards establish allowable amounts of some pollutants that leak out of pipes and pipe components, these testing and standards have limits.
While most pipes, except PEX, are theoretically recyclable, copper is the only pipe made of reuse content (40-80%) and is likely to be recycled at the end of its life (40-50 per cent global recycling rate for copper).
What is the best option?
While there are genuine and significant considerations to be made, the best way to avoid hazards and promote circularity throughout the pipe life cycle is to consider these points:
- Copper pipes have less health risks as compared to the alternatives., But many soldiers and fluxes used to connect pipes contain lead and other heavy metals of concern.
- If plastic pipes are chosen, polypropylene (PP) or high-density polyethene (HDPE) should be preferred over cross linked polyethylene (PEX). Chemical levels may be higher in PEX pipes than in PP and HDPE pipes. Furthermore, when PEX pipes reach the end of their useful life, they cannot be recycled into new pipes.
- Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is among the third most widely used material made of plastic. This material is not only used for the construction of pipes, but also in the manufacturing of profile applications such as windows and doors.
A good pipe system and tap must be strong and durable. Plastic pipes are necessary tools for the transportation of fluids and liquids. Many problems can arise in the pipes and taps, such as poor material causing breakage, bursting, and blocking the flow, among other things. What is required in situations like these is to consider and be aware of the quality and functions. Plastic taps and pipes are required for liquid services, so it is critical to have a basic understanding of the materials, applications, functions, and other components of water pipes and taps. Hence for a beneficial purchase, it is necessary to check and purchase the best pipe for your home.