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By: FlowGuard EMEA on 01-ago-2022 1:00:00
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Plastic Water Pipe and Health: What's the Connection?

The role of plumbing pipes in the prevention of bacterial growth explained

When it comes to protecting vulnerable people from harmful bacteria, it may often go unnoticed, but plumbing pipes play a vital role.



By ensuring plumbing pipes are properly installed and maintained, water supply system designers can help prevent the growth of dangerous bacteria, such as legionella in homes, and pseudomonas in hospitals and healthcare institutions, where water safety is essential.

That's why FlowGuard CPVC (chlorinated polyvinyl chloride) was specified in a major recent hospital renovation project in Riyadh. Let's discuss the potential threats to public health caused by bacterial growth in water pipes and how we developed FlowGuard CPVC to help prevent it.

Where Does Bacterial Growth in Water Pipes Come From?

One of the biggest bacterial threats facing modern hospitals in particular, is the threat of pseudomonas. Pseudomonas are harmful bacteria that can cause severe illness in people with weak immune systems. They are resistant to antibiotics, which means they can be difficult to treat.

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This harmful bacteria thrives in wet environments in hospitals. The internal walls of plumbing pipes are a consistently wet environment that is largely impossible to monitor. This is a prime breeding ground for biofilm, a slimy, bacteria-laden substance that can cause serious problems in plumbing systems and increase the risk of transmitting infections into water supply lines.


Plastic water pipe cross section with biofilm explained


Ultimately, biofilm is the principal cause of many bacterial threats facing vulnerable people in public institutions today. Other examples of waterborne bacteria include Legionella and E-Coli; download our free brochure to learn more.


Download Clean Water at Home: What's Really in Your Water?

How Can My Plumbing System Prevent Bacteria?

It is important to take steps to prevent the formation of biofilm in plumbing systems. Regular cleaning and maintenance can help to reduce the risk of biofilm buildup, but no defence is stronger than a powerfully resistant water pipe material itself.

Metallic plumbing pipes

Galvanized steel pipe, copper pipes and cast iron pipe are all susceptible to pitting corrosion which, over time, can create uneven surfaces upon which biofilm can attach and grow. Scaling in copper pipes also contributes to this environment.

Plastic plumbing pipes

Even the most rigid plastic water pipes can corrode and weaken over time, largely due to chlorine corrosion. PPR pipes and PEX pipes, when installed, create uneven surfaces from the beginning of their service life, enabling biofilm growth the moment hot and cold water is introduced.

With this in mind, public institutions that protect the most vulnerable need a water distribution material that can withstand high pressure and temperature, even in tight spaces. It must transport water that is safe for use, with superior corrosion resistance, all while adhering to local building codes.

Which is the Best Pipe for Water Supply Lines?

The smooth interior surface of FlowGuard CPVC (chlorinated polyvinyl chloride) pipe is resistant to biofilm formation. This helps to minimise the threat of an outbreak of pseudomonas in hospitals, legionella in domestic water supplies (as pictured below) or any biofilm associated contamination of potable water.

FlowGuard CPVC’s resistance to chlorine, thanks to its heavily chlorinated molecular structure, is the key to its strength and stability, even against plumbing industry heavyweights such as stainless steel.

chart to show Legionella not in plastic water pipes compared to other materials

Results of KIWA Water assessment study (read more here)

See How FlowGuard CPVC Makes Plumbing Work

Maintaining healthy water supply lines is just one of the challenges associated with installing plumbing pipes in public buildings.

Watch our Riyadh case study video to find out more about the many advantages of FlowGuard CPVC in major healthcare institutions.