Leaching - What It Is, Why It Matters, and What We Should Do

Leaching takes place when clean water is contaminated as it comes into contact with the chemicals in piping installations. The threat level of leaching is significantly based on the piping material installed. The use of plastic piping materials for residential and commercial drinking water, as well as concerns regarding the presence of substances potentially leaching into drinking water from such materials, are increasing worldwide.

Does Leaching Have an Effect on Us?

Leached substances in drinking water affect water quality and pose human health risks such as exposure to carcinogens and reproductive toxins.

What Should We Do to Prevent Leaching?

Leaching occurs from all pipe installations but some materials are safer than others. Copper pipes are resistant to leaching because copper isn’t manufactured using complex chemical blends, hydrocarbons and other additives. Although too much copper leaching is unhealthy, the average level of copper in drinking water is much less than what is considered unsafe in the U.S.

Specifying Piping Materials

There are two main material options to consider when looking to replace drinking water systems: plastic or copper. In an attempt to clarify potential hazards associated with both materials, a survey was conducted of publicly available, peer-reviewed studies containing information about chemicals leaching from seven common piping materials. View the complete survey on Environmental & Science Engineering Magazine’s website. 

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