8 february 2017 
Fact Is, Ductile Iron Pipe Is Lead-Free and Hazard-Resilient; PVC Pipe May Be Neither

January 27, 2017
Jon R. Runge

Facts are stubborn things. They stand tall above the fray no matter how much mud gets tossed around. Writing in The Daily Caller, Bonner Cohen makes an egregious leap in associating iron pipe and lead pipe. But here’s the stubborn fact: iron pipe is lead-free, and no matter of alleging otherwise will change that.

So let’s take a look at facts as sound decision making is critical these days, and especially for our community officials who must determine not only the state of our water infrastructure, but how to best ensure its safety, strength and resiliency for decades to come.

FACT: Iron pipe is lead-free. But PVC pipe may not be, per its foreign manufacturers. Industry reports indicate that more than 90 percent of PVC pipe manufactured in China contains lead. It is hard to know how much of that pipe is used in U.S. water infrastructure today. What is known, however, is that China, India and others have been allowed to bring in pipe of suspect qualities into the US. The question to ask your city officials: From where have you obtained the materials in your water distribution pipes? And at what risk to your citizens’ health?

FACT: Stronger Ductile Iron Pipe allows for streamlined walls that provide a greater inherent factor of safety in service. This is contrary to what Cohen wrote. When he referred to Ductile Iron Pipe as “thinly walled” he used a description that is off base and misses the fact that the iron pipe industry continues to innovate to provide the highest quality product with stronger, more durable materials. The plastic industry continues to complain, and its products remain dated and vulnerable. Keep in mind that in times of need, such as severe storms, it is Ductile Iron Pipe that shows the resiliency that weaker pipe materials, like PVC, cannot.

Today, community leaders must decide how best to replace aging infrastructure, and in doing so, will consider how long pipes will last, and whether those pipes will fail under pressure – both the normal service pressure and that from events exerting extreme forces of nature. It is why it’s critical to know that Ductile Iron Pipe has an average service life in excess of 100 years, while PVC pipe may have as little as half of that at only 50 years, according to research from the University of Michigan.

The main takeaway is that plastic pipe is proven to be inferior in resiliency. It is a weak product with suspect components from foreign manufacturers. It is a risk to residents and business to be dependent on the cheapest product on the market for their essential water supplies.

At the end of day – and for decades to come – the choice for clean, safe, reliable water delivery is Ductile Iron Pipe.




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