Most SA plastic pipe makers banish lead
Lead has been eliminated from plastic pipe products which represent about 80% of domestic supply.
LEAD has been eliminated from plastic pipe products manufactured by members of the Southern African Plastic Pipe Manufacturers Association — representing about 80% of domestic supply.
While the lead in South African-made plastic piping was not dangerous to consumers, workers involved in the manufacturing process were at a slight risk of lead poisoning, the association said yesterday.
The association was pushing for the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) to exclude lead stabilisers from its specifications. It was hoped this would come into effect by the end of next year.
“We want to see the new standards we have set promulgated into law to ensure peace of mind for everybody involved in the manufacturing process,” said association CE Jan Venter.
The European Union has targeted the elimination of lead as a plastics stabiliser for 2015.
“SA companies also want to play a responsible role and follow what civilised countries are doing. But there is a commercial penalty in doing this,” Mr Venter said.
The “penalty” was that alternatives to lead were more expensive by about 5%, and the manufacturing process was slower and more expensive. This pushed lead-free piping cost up by 10%.
Mr Venter said the growth in demand for lead alternatives was driving down their cost.
DPI Plastics product manager Renier Snyman, quoted by www.infrastructurene.ws, said: “Lead has been used as a PVC pipe stabiliser worldwide for more than 40 years and has excellent heat and UV (ultraviolet) resistance, which ensures a good costto-performance ratio.”
During the manufacturing process, the lead is chemically bonded into the PVC pipe and cannot leach from the pipe.
What is more, all pipes containing lead undergo annual SANS 966 tests to ensure the stabiliser does not leak. These tests, which are carried out by the SABS for various metals, have proven that lead is one of the metals least likely to leak.