Journal list menu

Volume 108, Issue 4 p. E192-E204
Peer Reviewed

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

Matthew Connell

Matthew Connell

Department of Civil Engineering, University of South Alabama, Mobile, Ala.

Search for more papers by this author
Alexandra Stenson

Alexandra Stenson

Department of Chemistry, University of South Alabama, Mobile, Ala.

Search for more papers by this author
Lauren Weinrich

Lauren Weinrich

American Water, Delran, N.J.

Search for more papers by this author
Mark LeChevallier

Mark LeChevallier

American Water, Delran, N.J.

Search for more papers by this author
Shelby L. Boyd

Shelby L. Boyd

Department of Chemistry, University of South Alabama, Mobile, Ala.

Search for more papers by this author
Raaj R. Ghosal

Raaj R. Ghosal

Department of Chemistry, University of South Alabama, Mobile, Ala.

Search for more papers by this author
Rajarshi Dey

Rajarshi Dey

Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of South Alabama, Mobile, Ala.

Search for more papers by this author
Andrew J. Whelton

Andrew J. Whelton

Division of Environmental and Ecological Engineering and Lyles School of Civil Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind.

Search for more papers by this author
First published: 01 April 2016
Citations: 21

Abstract

Eleven brands of plastic drinking water pipe were evaluated for assimilable organic carbon (AOC) release at 23°C 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.