ASK DANNY: Are Plastic Water Pipes Safe?

“Is PVC piping safe to use for drinking water? I have used it to run to my house, and it has a slight plastic taste. Can you advise if it’s safe, and if the plastic taste will go away?” -Mathew

Hi Mathew,
The gold standard for years has been copper pipe, with its only known drawback from a heath standpoint being the lead based solder that was used in the joints until 20 years ago when it was banned. Those living in older homes should have their water tested to see if lead is a problem.

Plastic pipe such as PVC (polyvinyl chloride, used for cold water only), and CPVC (chlorinated polyvinyl chloride, used for both hot and cold water) have been around for years, and both are approved for use with drinking water. Neither can be described as environmentally friendly from a production or recycling standpoint, however, and the glue used to join them together contains some strong solvents as well.

There is some concern about the leaching of chemicals that can give water a plastic taste, though the taste usually improves after a few months. Safety issues are mainly considered a concern in PVC pipe that was manufactured before 1977. While I’ve not seen any compelling evidence of the health risk of drinking water from PVC or CPVC plumbing, there is always the possibility that something will turn up in the future.

Flexible PEX (cross-lined polyethylene, used for both hot and cold water) tubing is becoming the pipe of choice for plumbers today, since it’s easy to install. It, too, can impart a plastic taste to water that goes away with time, but since it isn’t glued together, there are fewer toxic solvents used in installing it. PEX tubing, PVC pipe, and CPVC pipe marked “NSF-61” or “NSF-PW” indicate that they have passed testing for potentially harmful chemicals leaching into the water.

Another option is to install a water filter to remove chemicals present in the water. Find out more about them in our article Water Filters for Your Home.


Further Information


  1. i have a55 yr. home copper tubing in it i also have acidic well water. iam getting pin holes in the pipe. its a small house iam going to do the work myself i don’t know to use plastic or copper tubing iam not woring about the cost to much i woring about healthly part of it thank you very much john m.

  2. Copper pipes used in an area where well water is highly acidic has caused some users to contract Krohn’s disease or diverticulitis. One of the Statler Brothers died of Krohn’s disease. It is very debilitating and exrtremely expensive to treat. There is a class action suit against the plumbers union in California for demanding the use of copper plumbing. There have bee high incidences of Krohn’s and Diverticuis in California and Indiana.

  3. I had the main water line from the street to the house bust from age it was galvanized and rotted through out about 50 ft. So I had some 3/4 PVC that I had left over from a lawn project and replaced it with that, we buy bottled water to drink and cook with but I had heard something about PVC pipe being bad to use for drinking from..I figured if I really need to use it,I could boil it and if its a emergeny where the gas is shut off drinking from it for a short period shouldn’t hurt! I am guessing. Comments?

  4. Boiling is a start but you would also need to let the water cool and then filter it. Generally, you should dechlorinate water with an particular type of inline filter before drinking or bathing with it. As for the other possible chemicals, it’s a good idea to use a filtered water pitcher to remove any remaining substances. Note: simple filters cannot remove dissolved minerals or salts such as fluoride, sodium or calcium salts, etc. You might consider investing in a water distiller if you’re that concerned!

  5. In Wisconsin where I am a plumber, you may only use CPVC for potable water piping. PVC can be used for water piping but only to non-potable outlets(not drinking water). With installing numerous types of materials over the years I actually here the fewest complaints about fouling taste with CPVC, although it take a month after initiAl install to completely get rid of the taste. And with PEX only handyman use that because of ease of install, or if you are looping water lines underground.

    • Hi James,
      Thanks for the feedback!
      Maybe it’s a regional thing, but here in the deep South the plumbers I’ve seen often use PEX.

  6. I have heard that. And we have a very strict plumbing code up here and with the pressure loss you get from PEX piping it does not pay when we can run a 3/4 inch line in CPVC or have to run a 1 inch PEX or bigger. But that is mostly calculated from the small diameter of most PEX fittings (not all but most). But with either PEX or CPVC the taste goes away very quickly and lots of people are so use to the metallic taste from their metal piping that any change will be some getting use to, although they are more then likely getting cleaner water.

  7. I think the chemical industry is behind many of these comments. There is no way in my mind that PVC will ever be as good for humans as elements naturally found in the human body: copper and iron.

    Dioxins leached from PVC. If they are banning it from children toys, why are we allowing plumbers to install it to our drinking supply?

  8. The standard is above Schedule 40 PVC with PW rated cement appears to be good.Use schedule 80 fittings. Also says safe for portable water and can withstand 140 degrees. I would only use for cold side but thats me. Also if any PVC is exposed to sun. i would paint with latex paint and putt rubber AC type material over the pipe outside.

    My builder in 2004 apparently used PVC in Florida, and painted the small amount of piping that goes to house supply with latex paint. I would change to copper before entering house.

    By the way our pool also uses pvc

  9. Got a new kitchen faucet and water line. Consequently, I can no longer drink from it. My feet and ankles swell out so bad I can’t get my shoes on. I have since learned that it probably has plastic in the new water line. I now only get my water from the bathroom faucet – and the old water line. The new faucet has no bad smell or taste, just ill effects on my body. I would take copper any day. How do we get rid of this plastic poison that will now be literally everywhere before long?

  10. Mary: If you don’t have hard water, you can install a reverse osmosis filter under your kitchen sink that can provide you with pure water. We also had it connected to our refrigerator supply for water and ice. I bought ours in a package with a water softener. Installed at the same time, the R/O was only about $ 230.00 more. It makes 14 gallons a day of pure water. If you look at the labels of bottled water, many or most will say the source is municipal water that’s been processed by reverse osmosis. The cost per gallon is well under a penny a gallon. You’ll need to change the filters, but shop around, especially online for good deals.

  11. Might want to update your article about using PEX. There’s a couple of class action lawsuits against them for both water leakage and chemical leaching into drinking water.

  12. Guys, I’m the canary in the coal mine for endocrine disruptors. All I have to do is go near the detergent aisle in a store and my finger tips start to tingle and get numb; I get light headed; My blood sugar shoots up; My temperature drops; And I feel like passing out. I never used to be like this.

    Plastics are not safe…period. Plastics act as a synthetic estrogen. If I drink water that’s bottled in “safe” plastic and that bottle has sat in the sun, I get the same symptoms listed above. And I can taste the chemicals that have leeched into the water. So, for those who have new pipes and they are experiencing a chemical taste in the water for a while…they are being poisoned by those chemicals. Maybe their bodies can handle it if they are younger people and their livers are not overly toxic. But the more you keep building up toxins in your system over the years, the greater the risk you have for cancer and a host of other lovely diseases that the FDA and the EPA tell you cannot be directly attributed to the plethora of toxic products they have approved.

  13. We recently purchased a used home. The water pipes through out are plastic. Before we purchase the home the water tested positive for bacteria. A plummer used bleach in the well and ran 200 gallons through house. They retested the water, from a different sink, and determined it was free of bacteria. The plummer stated that plastic pipes can get a biofilm in when the water isn’t used consistently. All of our drains have thick black grime in them. I believe it’s a mold, my husband doesn’t.

    My question is what is biofilm? Can bleach kill it? What else do we need to do to ensure safe drinking water? We have a new grandchild who visits and I don’t want to be giving him contaminated water.

    Thank you.

  14. Live in a home that is app 14 years old & has copper piping throughout all plumbing. After getting very sick, we had the water tested & the copper concentration was so high it was toxic even after being filtered through an in-line system. Copper has to go

  15. I am a builder and plumber in the UK. Our water mains used to be iron pipes or galvanised steel and lead inside the houses. Iron and zinc do humans no harm and lead pipes soon fur up with calcium and seam to do no harm. All water supply pipes are now changing to PVC underground and in new build houses. Older houses have used copper pipes for many years and I prefer to use copper. However, we as a country seam to be getting more cases of cancer than ever before. Is it the plastic pipes or the rays out of all the TV and other electric devises? Who tests for such things?

  16. I believe there is a hose pipe type which is copper lined? I need a hose that will take hot water from my kitchen to my washing machine in the garage. It will be too expensive to lift paving etc to lay permanent copper pipes.Please give me the name of this product.

  17. I put the pvc onto the water pipe. When I finished doing it, after few minutes I drank water from it. My throat is itching. I think my throat is irritated. I’m not feeling well right now. I’m afraid something might happen to me. What am I suppose to do and how can I cure this? Is this dangerous to my health?

  18. PVC pipe, fittings and valves are safe to use in drinking water applications if they are a WRAS approved product or WRAS approved material. This is the Water Regulatory Advisory Scheme, who contribute to the protection of public health by preventing contamination of public water supplies and encouraging the efficient use of water by promoting and facilitating compliance within the water supply. So in answer to the question here PVC pipe and fittings are safe for use with drinking water, providing that the product or material is WRAS approved. Further reading can be located on this PVC pipe and fittings technical page:

  19. If water have plastic taste than it is not good, it is toxic. Do not drink water which have plastic taste ever. Change plumbing before it is too late for you and your familly. Plastic is hughe hormnone disrupter.
    Use copper or steal tubing.

    I recently took a shower in a home that had recently installed plastic water lines to replace their old copper. My tongue swelled. I am allergic to the cancer causing phalates, plasticizers and endocrine blockers that are released when plastic gets hot. My allergist at Northwestern in Chicago says that it is poison to everyone, not just an allergy I have that not dangerous for others.

  21. I would say no, plastic water pipes are not safe. I would recommend going for PVC pipes due to the fact that they are lightweight, making installation easier with minimum manpower, where installing a metal pipe might demand a lot of manpower and working hours leading towards increasing the cost. Secondly, PVC pipes are extremely flexible, and possess the ability to yield under loading without fracturing.

  22. There are various benefits of using PVC, pipes firstly they are lightweight, making its installation easier with minimum manpower, where installing a metal pipe might demand a lot of manpower and working hours leading towards increasing the cost. Secondly, PVC pipes are extremely flexible, and possess the ability to yield under loading without fracturing. However, when it comes to selecting a pipe it is best to consult a plumbing company before you proceed forward with the purchase.

    • Totally agree, Ellen! It’s always best to shop around and get quotes from several different companies before making a purchase. 🙂


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