1228615 (Whelton). Over the past several decades, polymer potable water pipe use has exponentially increased. This trend is expected to continue because of cost and life-cycle advantages over metal pipes. Green building initiatives and the US Green Building Council (USGBC) are driving increased installation of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and crosslinked polyethylene (PEX) potable water pipe into buildings to reduce PVC material use. Despite continued HDPE and PEX pipe installation, little is known about how US polyethylene based pipes affect drinking water quality, and data from Europe cannot be directly translated because of differences between pipe formulations and manufacturing practices. At present, little data are available on the conditions that result in worst-case contaminant release from US polyethylene potable water pipe. Moreover, little is known about which chemical and polymer properties best predict contaminant release potential, practically nothing about long-term drinking water quality impacts, and no US data are available from actual plumbing systems. This study will identify which contaminants, polymer properties, and environmental conditions influence contaminant release from new, laboratory aged, and actual pipes installed in building plumbing systems. The project will obtain the information necessary for building designers, owners, regulators, public health officials, and product manufacturers to understand the leaching aspects of HDPE and PEX piping. Results will outline key material factors so manufacturers can develop lower-leaching products, thereby improving building indoor environmental quality. A lab/field education module will be delivered to the USGBC Alabama and National Offices, AWWA, and US EPA. This module will also be provided to National and International Green Building Standard Organizations (IAMPO, ASPE).

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University of South Alabama
United States
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