Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Plastic Water Pipes Affect Odor And Taste Of Drinking Water

Date:
August 28, 2007
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
Plastic pipes, which are increasingly being used in place of copper water pipes, can significantly affect the odor and taste of drinking water, according to a pioneering study on the subject.

In a quest for improved drinking water, Andrea Dietrich is conducting pioneering studies on how plastic pipes affect water's odor and taste.
Credit: Courtesy of Andrea M. Dietrich, Virginia Tech

Plastic pipes, which are increasingly being used in place of copper water pipes, can significantly affect the odor and taste of drinking water, according to a pioneering study on the subject.

"Fruity plastic" may seem like a connoisseur's description of the bouquet of a bottle of Chardonnay or Merlot gone bad. However, that was among several uncomplimentary terms that a panel of water "sensory experts" used to describe the odor of drinking water from the plastic piping that is finding its way into an increasing number of homes these days.

The sampling was part of pioneering research on how plumbing materials affect the odor and taste of drinking water, which was reported at the 234th national meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

Andrea Dietrich, Ph.D., who reported to the ACS, the world's largest scientific society, pointed out that a rash of costly pinhole leaks in recent years in commonly used copper water pipes has led to renewed interest in lower priced plastic pipes. Dietrich and colleagues at Virginia Tech are among those scientists leading the way in evaluating how plastic might affect water quality and odor.

"Although water is a complex mixture of organic and inorganic chemicals, most people expect their drinking water to have little or no flavor," Dietrich noted. With those expectations, any taste or odor in a glass of water can be "highly noticeable."

Dietrich's team is using two methods to evaluate odors associated with several types of plastic piping. First, sensory panelists smell and describe the odor of the water after it has sat in the pipes for several days. Then, the water undergoes chemical analyses for metals and organics and basic water quality parameters, such as pH.

Using specially prepared, neutral-smelling water as their control, panelists described the test water samples in terms that included "waxy plastic citrus," "fruity plastic" and "burning plastic." Fortunately, the odors are not long lasting, Dietrich said. "We find that after about two months, most of the odors and water quality effects have gone to background." How quickly the odors disappear depends on the amount of water usage, she added. When a household uses more water, the odors fade faster.

Dietrich told the ACS that her group evaluated several types of plastic piping: cPVC (chlorinated polyvinyl chloride), HDPE (high-density polyethylene), and PEX-aA and PEX-b, which are crosslinked polyethylenes. Each is approved and certified for use in drinking water applications by NSF International, an independent certification, standards and testing organization, and ANSI, the American National Standards Institute.

"We found that cPVC has a low odor potential and it doesn't seem to release many organic chemicals," Dietrich said. "HPDE actually had the highest odor production, although it didn't release very many organic materials. The PEX-b pipe had a moderate amount of odors and also a moderate amount of organic chemicals that were released into the air. PEX-a had fewer odors and organics release than the PEX-b pipe."

Asked about her personal preference in plastic piping, Dietrich replied: "I would recommend people talk to their neighbors and find out what type of plumbing materials they have and if they are having problems. We do suspect that certain materials are going to be more compatible in certain areas," due to the differences in water quality from one part of the country to another.

For now, Dietrich's group is focused mainly on the odors imparted by plastic pipes and the analysis of any organic compounds that may leach into the water from the pipes. Asked if there may be any health effects from the leached compounds, Dietrich said that is still under investigation and she doesn't have any answers at this point.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Plastic Water Pipes Affect Odor And Taste Of Drinking Water." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 August 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070823141100.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2007, August 28). Plastic Water Pipes Affect Odor And Taste Of Drinking Water. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070823141100.htm
American Chemical Society. "Plastic Water Pipes Affect Odor And Taste Of Drinking Water." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070823141100.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Lithium Battery 'Holy Grail' Could Provide 4 Times The Power

Lithium Battery 'Holy Grail' Could Provide 4 Times The Power

Newsy (July 28, 2014) Stanford University published its findings for a "pure" lithium ion battery that could have our everyday devices and electric cars running longer. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

AP (July 28, 2014) AP Investigation: As the Obama administration weans the country off dirty fuels, energy companies are ramping-up overseas coal exports at a heavy price. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shipping Crates Get New 'lease' On Life

Shipping Crates Get New 'lease' On Life

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 25, 2014) Shipping containers have been piling up as America imports more than it exports. Some university students in Washington D.C. are set to get a first-hand lesson in recycling. Their housing is being built using refashioned shipping containers. Lily Jamali reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

AFP (July 25, 2014) Europe's highest train, the little train of Artouste in the French Pyrenees, celebrates its 80th birthday. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins