Study: Majority of Leached Substances Are Carcinogenic, Toxic, or Unregulated

A recent study from Gradient identified 163 substances that leach from plastic piping systems into potable water. These include proven carcinogens and reproductive toxins, as well as many unregulated chemicals with unknown impacts.

What Piping Materials Leach Chemicals?

The study analyzed and concluded that all plastic piping polymers commonly deployed across North America leach chemicals into potable water.

Substances Dangerous to Human Health

Of the 163 substances leaching from plastic piping, 23 (14 percent) are proven carcinogens or reproductive toxins for either the male or female body, or both.

*This list was compiled with the assistance of The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, which requires the Governor of California to revise and republish the list of known carcinogens or reproductive toxins at least once per year. All listed chemicals were present on California’s known toxins list and were proven as having leached from plastic piping in a third-party analysis, which can be viewed here.

Unregulated Chemicals

A total of 74 chemicals (44.8 percent) leached from plastic piping currently have limited or no regulation, environmental criteria or standards for monitoring water quality. Without standards of measurement, their effect on water quality and human health is not fully understand or known. In fact, of the 37 most frequently leached substances, 17 are not regulated.

At least 23 substances leaching from plastic piping systems are known human toxins, and with another 74 unstudied or unregulated, that list may continue to grow. Until industry innovations eliminate the leaching of these substances into potable water and further research proves the safety of other leached substances, plastic piping systems cannot be considered safe.