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  QUESTION: Replacing main water pipe from the meter to the house with lead free plastic pipes, 12 May 2006, Victoria Australia

I want to replace my main water pipe from the meter to the house with lead free plastic pipes and fittings.
Are they readily available? (Most plastic pipes & fittings use lead as plasticizer).
ANSWER: 01 Aug 2006

Dear Gerd,

Sorry that it's taken a ridiculously long time to track down some lead free potable water pipe for you - it's not at all readily available and lead free fittings don't seem to be available at all. We asked Tradelink and Iplex by email but after receiving no reply we finally phoned around and found the following information:

  1. Vinidex have a lead-free 90mm potable water pipe in 6 m lengths (item code 20890) but they do not have any lead-free fittings as yet. If you ring your closest capital city Sales office they'll tell you who supplies it in your area as they do not sell direct to the public. Melbourne Sales tel. 0395432311.
  2. Iplex may have some lead free products and suggested checking but when I searched the product database for "lead free", there were no results. Iplex can only confirm whether they have any lead free plumbing products tomorrow when their planning department will get back to us. In 2002, Allan Whittle, Chief Technical Advisor, IPLEX Pipelines, kindly provided a letter about rainwater PVC pipes for inclusion in the NSW Council LEAD Project Tool Kit which was distributed by The LEAD Group to every Council in NSW in 2002. The letter concludes: "Using Iplex Pipelines PVC products that comply with AS/NZS 4020 eliminates the risk that the extraction of lead from the pipe system could contribute to a high lead content in rain water collected for drinking purposes."

You've probably finished the job by now but it's good you asked so we can add this info to our Lead-free Products Page

Yours Sincerely
Elizabeth O'Brien

Dear Gerd,
we have just received the response from Iplex and it seems things are not as simple as I had concluded in my email yesterday. Though plastic fittings are not specifically mentioned, the statement: "all PVC used for water mains in Australia is processed using non-lead compounds i.e. there is NO ADDED LEAD" would seem to cover fittings.
Perhaps you could let me know if your query is answered.
Elizabeth O'Brien

Email from Iplex
The comment that "most plastics use lead" is incorrect. In the past it was common for PVC-U to be processed with the aid of a lead based thermal stabiliser compound and, although leaching tests showed this was not a health risk according to WHO guidelines, today all PVC used for water mains in Australia is processed using non-lead compounds i.e. there is NO ADDED LEAD. Moreover, we are not aware of lead ever being used as a plasticiser in any plastics material.
PVC-U is also widely used in domestic plumbing for both sewerage and drainage purposes. These pipes are still processed by some manufacturers using lead based compounds although these are due to be phased out in the near future and replaced with non-lead formulations .
Pressure pipes for domestic plumbing such as mains to meter pipes are usually polyethylene (PE). Within the house polybutylene (PB) or cross linked polyethylene is often used for both hot and cold water reticulation. These polymers do not contain any added lead.
I hope this is sufficient for your purposes.
Peter Nixey
Technical Marketing Group
02 9755 8241, 0409 065 299, Fax 02 97551195

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Last Updated 11 September 2012
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