Plasticisers in tap water - the danger that lies not only in plastic bottles
The harmful substances that keep plastic supple are not only found in PET bottles, but can sometimes be found in plastic water pipes and are therefore a hidden danger.
Plasticisers, also called phthalates, are used in plastic production to improve the plasticity and therefore the usability of the materials. Plasticisers give plastic water pipes the flexibility they need, ensure they don't become brittle and make them more durable. Plasticisers are also used in the production of plastic bottles.
Plasticisers in drinking water: a health threat
At the same time however, plasticisers have a tremendous negative impact on the health when they are for example ingested via food. Plastic pipes are seen as a cheap and effective alternative when it comes to choosing the ideal materials for your water pipes, but even they can be a health threat. Plasticisers, along with stabilisers, colourants and lubricants, are added to a material to optimise its physical qualities.
Plasticisers have been a subject of controversy for some time now. Plasticisers in plastic bottles are the main concern; the use of these substances in the production of plastic pipes is rarely discussed. But even here, there is a real danger that the water flowing out of your taps might be contaminated with plasticisers. Even in the smallest quantities, plasticisers can have an effect which is comparable to the intake of hormones.
Especially in sanitary facilities, pipes known as armoured pipes can be found. These consist of flexible tubes with a stainless steel cover and an elastic plastic pipe inside. The latter often contains a high proportion of plasticisers.
Phthalates coming into contact with drinking water and food: unhealthy and unsafe!
In addition, plasticisers (phthalates) can be responsible for a distinct layer of biofilm inside the pipe. These substances can be used by microbes and are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and pathogens. Plasticisers in plastic pipes are therefore not only a problem due to harmful ingredients like benzyl butyl phtalateor diethylhexyl phthalate, but also because they provide an ideal environment for bacteria and germs.
Plasticisers can have significant adverse health effects. Children and unborn babies are especially at risk. Plasticisers are thought to have an influence on the hormonal balance, whereby unborn babies are especially at risk: possible consequences are liver damage, infertility or behavioural disorders. Phthalate-plasticisers can also be a cause of infertility in men.
Plasticisers in water: test your tap water and take precautions
A simple test for plasticisers in water provides assurance, quickly and reliably. The professional analysis is carried out by a reputable laboratory.
The IVARIO test for plasticisers (phthalates) analyses your water for the following substances:
- Benzyl butyl phtalate (BBP)
- Diethylhexyl phtalate (DEHP)
- Di-n-octyl phthalate (DNOP)
- Diethyl phthalate (DEP)
- Dicyclohexyl phthalate (DCHP)
- Dibutyl phthalate (DBP)
- Diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP)
- Diisononyl phthalate (DINP) and
- Diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP)
Based on your test results, you can find out if your water is safe to drink, or if there is a need for action.
This could be of interest to you:
Information and facts in the IVARIO drinking water magazine - read more about different materials for water pipes:
What are the best materials for water pipes and how do I know which materials are used in my house?
By the way: Plasticisers are not the only harmful substances lurking in your water. Heavy metals and bacteria can be a health hazard too. Read more on this subject in the magazine post about Heavy metals like lead or copper in drinking water. You can also find out more about microbacterial contamination in our post on the most common pathogens in tap water. To be sure that your tap water doesn't pose a threat in this area, we recommend our Bacteria Test Kit, our Heavy Metals Test Kit or the Combined Test Kit.
Attention: To rule out the risk of bacteria and germs in your drinking water, we recommend our Combined Test. Find more information here. Please be aware that this test for heavy metals in water does not provide information on harmful legionella pathogens. You can request the Legionella Test here.
Don't know which test is right for you? You can find a comparison of our test kits here.