Building Healthy Homes Requires Paying Attention to Water Quality
Residential home builders have made significant progress in improving the air quality issues that can arise in today’s tightly built, energy efficient homes. Turning to materials with lower air quality impacts and increasing mechanical ventilation in accordance with ASHRAE IAQ standards has allowed builders to achieve both the efficiency and indoor air quality today’s health and energy conscious consumers are seeking.
While air quality gets the majority of the attention, there’s another potential health hazard hidden in today’s homes: water quality.
This is an issue builders and their plumbing contractors need to be aware of because it’s on the minds of their customers. A recent study by NSF International found that more than half of Americans are concerned with the quality of their domestic drinking water.
Water quality issues can arise from a number of sources, but one of the most significant risks is bacterial contamination from biofilm formation.
Biofilms that form in residential water pipes can include dangerous bacteria such as e.coli, coliforms and legionella. Legionella causes Legionnaires’ disease, a severe and potentially fatal form of pneumonia.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Outdoors, legionella bacteria survive in soil and water, but rarely cause infections. Indoors, though, legionella bacteria can multiply in all kinds of water systems.”
While no plumbing material will actively kill bacteria over the life of the system, there are significant differences between the biofilm formation potential across various piping materials.
Studies have shown that PEX piping has a comparatively high biofilm formation potential (see image below), possibly due to its microscopically rough internal surface that creates an ideal environment for biofilm growth. On the other hand, CPVC piping, such as FlowGuard Gold® pipes and fittings, consistently demonstrate a lower risk of biofilm formation.
Biofilm growth inside a PEX pipe
The low biofilm growth potential of CPVC has been documented in multiple studies. A controlled study conducted by Kiwa, a respected international testing and inspection institute in The Netherlands, found that several times more legionella developed in PEX piping when compared to CPVC over the same time period.
Another benefit of CPVC piping is chlorine resistance. This is important because the recommended treatment for bacterial growth in water systems is chlorine, which can degrade PEX piping. PEX actually includes chlorine inhibitors to slow the rate of degradation. These inhibitors attack the chlorine in the water rendering it inert.
With superior biofilm performance, in addition to fast and easy installation and cost effectiveness, builders and plumbing contractors are making the switch from PEX to FlowGuard Gold CPVC. Learn how to Make the Switch today.