Technical Blog

Welcome to John’s Blog. Answers to frequently asked questions are periodically posted here. The objective is to share information about PVC pipe with readers as well as with utilities, design engineers and pipe installers. The blog provides the latest information on PVC pipe design, installation, and application for water and wastewater infrastructure projects.

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John Houle: Senior Technical Consultant, PVC Pipe Industry

John Houle holds a Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Missouri and an MBA from the University of Oregon. He has more than 25 years of experience in the plastic pipe industry in applications engineering, market development, forensic analysis, technical writing, and standards development.

Leaching of Vinyl Chloride Monomer (VCM): Not An Issue for AWWA PVC Water Pipe

Posted By John Houle on Oct 24, 2017

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is produced from vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) through a process known as polymerization. This process transforms VCM into a white powder called PVC resin, which is the primary raw material for PVC pipe.

In the 1970s, VCM was identified as a hazardous material. By the late 1970s, the PVC resin industry significantly reduced the amount of residual VCM in PVC resin. 

In the pipe industry, “leaching” is the migration of a substance from inside a pipe wall into the conveyed liquid. For decades, PVC pipe has been tested per NSF Standard 61 to ensure that VCM does not leach into drinking water – testing requirement is 0.2 parts per billion, which is one tenth the EPA’s allowable of 2 parts per billion (ppb). 

The bar is high: 0.2 ppb is a very small amount. But PVC not only passes testing at this level, it consistently tests “Non-Detect” for VCM per the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Despite the allegations of competitors, the bottom line is that leaching of VCM from PVC pipe into drinking water is not an issue for concern. 

For my Tech Brief on VCM, please click here.