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Protecting the Health and Safety of all Californians

For more than a quarter century, the California Pipe Trades Council has protected California families and workers from exposure to potentially dangerous piping and other buildings materials. Our advocacy efforts on behalf of health, safety and environmental standards have enabled California to avoid some of the risks and pitfalls that other states have experienced with new plumbing materials and technology.

The California State Pipe Trades Council's participation in the development and adoption of plumbing code standards is part of a long and proud tradition. In the latter half of the 19th century, the organized pipe trades were instrumental in developing standards for sanitary plumbing systems and advocating government action to make such standards mandatory. These standards modernized the nation’s plumbing systems and eliminated what had been a major source of infection and disease. Since that time, the pipe trades have been actively involved in the development and government review of new plumbing system designs, materials and standards. Click here to read how UA Local 38 fought for safe building codes in San Rafael, California in 1910.

The California State Pipe Trades Council remains committed to plumbing code standards that allow for the continued advancement of our industry, while at the same time protecting public and worker health and ensuring safe and effective performance. In cooperation with other labor organizations, environmental, public health and consumer groups, public agencies and others, the Council advocates for health and safety studies of potentially hazardous new plumbing systems and materials that are proposed for approval in California. In the past, such studies have revealed previously undisclosed public and worker health and safety risks. As a result of this pre-approval review, Californian’s have avoided these health and safety risks and have been spared the millions of dollars in potential damages that have resulted elsewhere.


Court of Appeal Rules in Our Favor that Pre-Approval Safety Tests are Mandatory. In December 2004, the Court of Appeal affirmed that new plastic potable water pipe materials must be tested for potential health and safety risks prior to state approval. The court, in the case Plastic Pipe and Fittings Association v. California Building Standards Commission, declared that potential health, safety and environmental impacts of proposed plumbing materials, such as cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) piping, must undergo review by the state before inclusion in the California Plumbing Code. Click here to read more.

Polybutylene: Protecting California Homeowners. As a result of the Council's demand for health and safety review of polybutylene (PB) plastic pipe, homeowners in California were largely spared the widespread and catastrophic failures of the pipe that led to over a billion dollars of damage claims across the country. Click here to read more about our polybutylene victory.

CPVC: Protecting Public Health and the Environment.The Council's demand for health and safety review of Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride (CPVC) pipe resulted in the state imposing protective measures intended to: (1) reduce exposure of consumers to chemical contaminants in drinking water; (2) reduce exposure of workers to toxic solvents during installation; and (3) reduce the air pollution impacts from the volatile organic compounds associated with the chemical glues used to install CPVC pipe. The Council's demand for health and safety review of CPVC also revealed a potential problem with leaching of chloroform, which was eliminated when manufacturers reformulated their product. Click here to read more about our CPVC victory.

PEX: Addressing Failure, Leaching and Permeation Concerns. The Council's demand for meaningful review of the environmental, public health, and durability concerns associated with cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) plastic potable water pipe resulted in the state imposing protective measures intended to address: (1) the vulnerability of PEX pipe to permeation by outside contaminants such as gasoline or solvents; (2) the vulnerability of PEX to premature failure when exposed to sunlight; (3) the failure of PEX brass fittings due to dezincification and stress crack corrosion; (4) the potential for traditional PEX pipe to fail when installed in continuously recirculating hot water systems; and (5) potential health impacts from the leaching of chemicals such as methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE) from PEX pipe. Click here to read about our PEX plastic pipe victory.

Lead Solder. Nationally, the organized pipe trades led the fight to establish EPA regulations restricting the amount of lead contained in copper solders. Despite the enormous performance advantages that solders with higher lead content provided to installers, the pipe trades maintained their commitment to advocating for the safest materials and systems.

Click here to read about our PEX plastic pipe victory.
Click here to read about our CPVC plastic pipe victory.
Click here to read about our polybutylene plastic pipe victory.