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PEX and PP Water Pipes: Assimilable Carbon, Chemicals, and Odors

  • Author(s): Connell, Matthew; Stenson, Alexandra; Weinrich, Lauren; LeChevallier, Mark; Boyd, Shelby L.; Ghosal, Raaj R.; Dey, Rajarshi; Whelton, Andrew J.
  • Publications: Journal - American Water Works Association
  • Issue Date: April 2016
  • Volume / Number: 108, Number 4
  • Page(s): E192-E204
  • DOI:
  • Product Number: JAW_0082642
Full Text: pdf

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Eleven brands of plastic drinking water pipe were evaluated for assimilable organic carbon (AOC) release at 23ºC for 28 days: polyvinyl chloride, high-density polyethylene, polypropylene (PP), and cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) pipes. Three of eight PEX pipe brands exceeded a 100 µg/L AOC microbial regrowth threshold for the first exposure period, and no brands exceeded this value on day 28. No AOC increase was found for PP or PEX-a1 pipes; the remaining pipe brands contributed marginal AOC levels. Pipe water quality impacts were more fully evaluated for two PEX-b brands and one PP brand. PEX pipes caused greater odor than the PP pipe and released more organic carbon as well as volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds. Water quality impacts were less after 30 days. Regulated and unregulated contaminants were found in three PEX plumbing systems. Drinking water odors were attributed to toluene, ethyl-tert-butyl ether, and unidentified contaminants.

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