Codes Must be Responsive to Current and Future Hazards

By Jay Peters, Codes & Standards International

In one of my recent articles, “Building Products, They Comply with Code But Are They Safe,”I insinuated that PVC and some plastics could become the next asbestos or lead and caught some flak from friends in the plastic piping industry. Plastics are used in children’s toys, food containers, furnishings, finishes on furniture, countertops, cabinet pull handles, toilet seats, tubs and shower enclosures, plumbing piping, ductwork, cabinetry, carpet, electrical wiring, insulation, drinking cups and utensils, televisions, shelving, flooring, and the list goes on and on. If you check history, you will find that lead and asbestos products followed the same path, and both were even used to transport drinking water. A recent study found that the average person ingests the equivalent of the weight of a credit card in plastic every week, mostly via drinking water. Only time will tell if there are major health effects, but there are those not willing to wait for history to play out.

In 2019, the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters (UA) and the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) released a joint statement in support of restricting the use of plastic pipe (PVC and ABS) in specific types of buildings, including healthcare facilities and high-rise residential occupancies. Although this may send shock waves through some in the plumbing industry, or seem an inconvenience to others, they see it as a matter of life and death for their members. Their individual press releases can be found at or


Jay Peters has been in the industry for almost 40 years as a licensed journeyman plumber, refrigeration journeyman, sheet metal installer and multi-state contractor. For more than a decade he worked for the two largest code organizations as Executive Director of plumbing, mechanical and fuel gas at the International Code Council (ICC) and Senior Director of Codes and Education at the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO). Currently he is the principal advisor at Codes and Standards International.