Environmental Groups Target PVC Pipes

A coalition of environmental advocacy groups release a new report questioning the safety of PVC pipes for drinking water, as EPA has tentatively agreed with AGC that there is not sufficient evidence to justify PVC’s disposal as hazardous waste.

A coalition of environmental advocacy groups, including Beyond Plastics, Environmental Health Sciences, and the Plastic Pollution Coalition, released a report calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide guidance on a safe alternative to PVC for replacing lead water service lines.  The coalition claims that PVC is hazardous to human health and warns that communities replacing their lead service lines with PVC would be “leaping from the frying pan into the fire.” The report, however, lacks new research to justify such regulatory action, as the groups admit “research on this topic is thin.”

The replacement of lead service lines is funded by the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Job Creation Act (IIJA), which provides $15 billion for this purpose.

AGC has been active in opposing similar, unfounded efforts to have EPA regulate polyvinyl chloride (PVC or vinyl) as a hazardous waste. In August 2021, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) sued EPA over its slow response to the environmental group’s request to list PVC as hazardous waste. 

In May 2022, EPA published a notice of a consent decree to settle the lawsuit, obligating EPA to make an initial decision in January 2023 on whether to grant or deny the environmental group’s petition and to finalize that decision by April 2024.  AGC was the only construction organization to publicly oppose the consent decree.  AGC also joined with a broad array of stakeholders to push back on the unsubstantiated effort. 

Then on January 12, 2023, the EPA published a tentative decision in the Federal Register agreeing with AGC not to regulate PVC under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and denying CBD’s request.  AGC and its members have strongly urged EPA to finalize that decision and avoid unnecessary new regulations on the construction industry.  Not all PVC plastic presents a substantial hazard and the existing statutory framework is sufficient to address potential environmental risks presented by PVC.

For more information, contact Leah Pilconis at [email protected], Melinda Tomaino at [email protected] or Allen Gray at [email protected]

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