Unplasticized polyvinyl chloride (uPVC) pipes have been used in the premise plumbing system due to their high strength, long-term durability, and low cost. uPVC pipes, however, may contain lead due to the use of lead compounds as the stabilizer during the manufacturing process. The release of lead from three locally purchased uPVC pipes was investigated in this study. The effects of various water quality parameters including pH value, temperature, and type of disinfectant on the rate of lead release were examined. The elemental mapping obtained using scanning electron microscopy-energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM-EDX) confirmed the presence of lead on the inner surfaces of the uPVC pipes and their surface lead weight percentages were determined. The leachable lead concentration for each pipe was determined using high strength acidic EDTA solutions (pH 4, EDTA = 100 mg/L). Lead leaching experiments using tap water and reconstituted tape water under static conditions showed that the rate of lead release increased with the decreasing pH value and increasing temperature. In the presence of monochloramine, lead release was faster than that in the presence of free chlorine.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Al-Malack MH (2001) Migration of lead from unplasticized polyvinyl chloride pipes. J Hazard Mater 82:263–274
Bellinger D, Sloman J, Leviton A, Rabinowitz M, Needleman HL, Waternaux C (1991) Low level lead exposure and children’s cognitive function in the preschool years. Pediatrics 87:219–227
Canfield RL, Kreher DA, Cornwell C, Henderson CR (2003) Low level lead exposure, executive functioning, and learning in early childhood. Child Neuropsychol 9:35–53
Edwards M (2014) Fetal death and reduced birth rates associated with exposure to lead contaminated drinking water. Environ Sci Technol 48:739–746
Edwards M, Dudi A (2004) Role of chlorine and chloramine in corrosion of lead-bearing plumbing materials. J Am Water Works Assoc 96:69–81
Edwards M, Triantafyllidou S, Best D (2009) Elevated blood lead in young children due to lead contaminated drinking water: Washington, DC, 2001–2004. Environ Sci Technol 43:1618–1623
Guidotti TL, Calhoun T, Davies-Cole JO, Knuckles ME, Stokes L, Glymph C, Lum G, Moses MS, Goldsmith DF, Ragain L (2007) Elevated lead in drinking water in Washington, DC, 2003–2004: the public health response. Environ Health Perspect 115:695–701
Jafvert CT, Valentine RL (1992) Reaction scheme for the chlorination of ammoniacal water. Environ Sci Technol 26:577–586
Koh LL, Wong MK, Gan LM, Yap CT (1991) Factors affecting the leaching of lead from UPVC pipes. Environ Monitor Assess 19:203–213
Lasheen MR, Sharaby CM, El-Kholy NG, Elsherif IY, Ei-Wakeel ST (2008) Factors influencing lead and iron release from some Egyptian drinking water pipes. J Hazard Mater 160:675–680
Lin YP, Valentine RL (2008) Release of Pb(II) from monochloramine mediated dissolution of lead oxide (PbO2). Environ Sci Technol 42:9137–9143
Lin YP, Valentine RL (2009) Reduction of lead oxide (PbO2) and release of Pb(II) in mixtures of natural organic matter, free chlorine and monochloramine. Environ Sci Technol 43:3872–3877
Liu HZ, Korshin GV, Ferguson JF (2008) Investigation of the kinetics and mechanisms of the oxidation of cerussite and hydrocerussite by chlorine. Environ Sci Technol 42:3241–3247
Liu HZ, Korshin GV, Ferguson JF (2009) Interactions of Pb(II)/Pb(IV) solid phases with chlorine and their effects on lead release. Environ Sci Technol 43:3278–3284
Lytle DA, Schock MR (2005) Formation of Pb(IV) oxides in chlorinated water. J Am Water Works Assoc 97:102–114
Papanikolaou NC, Hatzidaki EG, Belivanis S, Tzanakakis GN, Tsatsakis AM (2005) Lead toxicity update. A brief review. Med Sci Monit 11:RA329–RA336
Renner R (2004) Plumbing the depths of D.C’.s drinking water crisis. Environ Sci Technol 38:224A–227A
Renner R (2009) Out of plumb when water treatment causes lead contamination. Environ Health Perspect 117:A542–A547
Renner R (2010) Exposure on tap drinking water as an overlooked source of lead. Environ Health Perspect 118:A68–A74
Sadiq M, Zaidi TH, AlMuhanna H, Mian AA (1997) Effect of distribution network pipe material on drinking water quality. J Environ Sci Health Part A-Toxic/Hazard Subst Environ Eng 32:445–454
Stumm W, Morgan JJ (1996) Aquatic chemistry, 3 ed. Wiley Interscience
Sue K, Hakuta Y, Smith RL, Adschiri T, Arai K (1999) Solubility of lead(II) oxide and copper(II) oxide in subcritical and supercritical water. J Chem Eng Data 44:1422–1426
USEPA (1991) Maximum contaminant level goals and national primary drinking water regulations for lead and copper. Fed Regist 56:26460–26564
Wallenwein G (2006) PVC stabilizers: a contribution to sustainability. Plastics Plast Addit Compound 8:26–28
Wang Y, Xie YJ, Li WL, Wang ZM, Giammar DE (2010) Formation of lead(IV) oxides from lead(II) compounds. Environ Sci Technol 44:8950–8956
Whelan A, Craft JL (1977) Developments in PVC production and processing-1. Applied Science Publishers, London
WHO (2011) Water sanitation and health: guidelines for drinking water quality
Wong MK, Gan LM, Koh LL (1988) Temperature effects on the leaching of lead from unplasticized poly(vinyl-chloride) pipes. Water Res 22:1399–1403
Wong MK, Gan LM, Koh LL, Lum OL (1990) Some further studies on factors affecting the leaching of lead from unplasticized poly(vinyl chloride) pipes. Water Res 24:451–455
Zhang Y, Lin YP (2011) Determination of PbO2 formation kinetics from the chlorination of Pb(II) carbonate solids via direct PbO2 measurement. Environ Sci Technol 45:2338–2344
Zhang Y, Zhang YY, Lin YP (2010) Fast detection of lead dioxide (PbO2) in chlorinated drinking water by a two-staged iodometric method. Environ Sci Technol 44:1347–1352
Ziemniak SE, Palmer DA, Benezeth P, Anovitz LM (2005) Solubility of litharge (alpha-PbO) in alkaline media at elevated temperatures. J Solut Chem 34:1407–1428
The authors would like to thank financial support from National University of Singapore (R-302-000-049-112) and National Taiwan University (NTU-CDP-103R7877).
Responsible editor: Philippe Garrigues
Electronic supplementary material
Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.
(DOCX 622 kb)
About this article
Cite this article
Zhang, Y., Lin, YP. Leaching of lead from new unplasticized polyvinyl chloride (uPVC) pipes into drinking water. Environ Sci Pollut Res 22, 8405–8411 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-014-3999-9
- uPVC pipe
- Distribution system