Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 2126–2134 | Cite as

Do estrogenic compounds in drinking water migrating from plastic pipe distribution system pose adverse effects to human? An analysis of scientific literature

  • Ze-hua LiuEmail author
  • Hua Yin
  • Zhi Dang
Short Research and Discussion Article


With the widespread application of plastic pipes in drinking water distribution system, the effects of various leachable organic chemicals have been investigated and their occurrence in drinking water supplies is monitored. Most studies focus on the odor problems these substances may cause. This study investigates the potential endocrine disrupting effects of the migrating compound 2,4-di-tert-butylphenol (2,4-d-t-BP). The summarized results show that the migration of 2,4-d-t-BP from plastic pipes could result in chronic exposure and the migration levels varied greatly among different plastic pipe materials and manufacturing brands. Based on estrogen equivalent (EEQ), the migrating levels of the leachable compound 2,4-d-t-BP in most plastic pipes were relative low. However, the EEQ levels in drinking water migrating from four out of 15 pipes may pose significant adverse effects. With the increasingly strict requirements on regulation of drinking water quality, these results indicate that some drinking water transported with plastic pipes may not be safe for human consumption due to the occurrence of 2,4-d-t-BP. Moreover, 2,4-d-t-BP is not the only plastic pipe-migrating estrogenic compound, other compounds such as 2-tert-butylphenol (2-t-BP), 4-tert-butylphenol (4-t-BP), and others may also be leachable from plastic pipes.


Drinking water Plastic pipe distribution system Polyethylene pipe Polypropylene pipe Polybutylene pipe Estrogenic compounds Migration Adverse effects 



This work was financially supported by The Key Program of National Natural Science of China (No. 41330639); the Program for National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 21107025; No.21577040; U1501234); Special funds for public welfare research and capacity building in Guangdong Province (B2153210); Science and Technology Program of Guangzhou, China (No. 201510010162); the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (2014ZM0073), as well as the funding for water odor research (D8144320).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Environment and EnergySouth China University of TechnologyGuangzhouChina
  2. 2.Key Lab Pollution Control & Ecosystem Restoration in Industry ClusterMinistry of EducationGuangzhouChina
  3. 3.Guangdong Environmental Protection Key Laboratory of Solid Waste Treatment and RecyclingGuangzhouChina

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