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Is Your Drinking Water Safe? Check Your Pipes

(ARA) - It's no secret that water (and lots of it) is necessary for a healthy lifestyle. But what kind of water? As a result of increased negative publicity regarding various drinking water contaminants, people today are more aware and concerned about the quality of the water they drink.

Copper is an example of a contaminant identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a potential health threat in drinking water. The maximum allowable level of copper in drinking water is 1.3 parts per million, which is based on the lowest observed adverse health effect level. Short-term effects of excess copper exposure include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps. Long-term effects are more serious and include liver and kidney damage, as well as anemia.

Copper can leach into drinking water as household copper plumbing ages and corrodes. Third-party testing and certification labs, like NSF International, do not certify copper for potable water use with a pH of less than 6.5. Under these water conditions, copper pipe may corrode at a rate sufficient to contaminate water beyond state and federal drinking water standards.

Other health concerns relative to copper pipe have only recently surfaced and will likely be the focus of future medical studies and reports. However, an alarming study received national attention in late 2003 when it was published in the prestigious "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences." The study, co-authored by Dr. Larry Sparks from the Sun Health Research Institute in Sun City, Ariz., suggested a direct link between copper and Alzheimer's disease.

In Dr. Sparks' studies conducted with rabbits, he documented a direct correlation between trace amounts of copper added to drinking water and learning deficiency. It is important to note that the rabbit's level of copper exposure during these experiments was well below those considered safe for humans. From his study results, Dr. Sparks concluded that copper influences the body's ability to clear the brain of accumulated amyloid plaques (clumps of protein fragments that accumulate outside of cells). Amyloid plaques are commonly found in the brains of Alzheimer's patients.

Although it is not yet completely clear as to how the results from these tests with rabbits translate into exact effects on humans, there has been enough concern raised to prompt The National Institute of Health to consider pursuing a more detailed, follow-up study which will evaluate the effects of varied combinations of cholesterol and copper on learning and memory.

This study, along with the biofilm research, combined with various medical and EPA reports regarding copper exposure, has caused a growing controversy over the quality of water when exposed to copper pipe. In response, builders are using alternative piping materials, such as FlowGuard Gold CPVC pipe and fittings, which are gaining favorable attention and market share because they will never leach copper into the water. With CPVC, regardless of how aggressive the water is, or even if water quality standards and treatments change in an area, homeowners don't have to worry about copper contamination in the water.

In addition, a FlowGuard Gold CPVC plumbing system will never pit or corrode, so there are no concerns about pinhole leaks causing damage to the property. The system has been proved to also be four times quieter than copper in minimizing water flow noise and virtually eliminating water hammer (the banging sound heard in pipes when the water pressure changes suddenly). CPVC pipe is also more energy efficient and minimizes concerns of condensation.

Most important to health-conscious consumers, however, is that CPVC pipe offers a safer alternative by eliminating potential health concerns associated with copper exposure. For more information on how you can better maintain your home's drinking water quality, visit

Courtesy of ARA Content

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