Lead PVC pipes may soon be banned by National Green Tribunal

Lead PVC pipes

Water passing through PVC pipes commonly used in most buildings may contain toxic materials like lead, which has a dangerous effect on human health. This was told to the National Green Tribunal (NGT), which today directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to lay down standards within four months for using lead in Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) pipes, in consultation with Bureau of Indian Standards.

The green panel also directed the MoEF Secretary to draw up a program for phasing out lead from PVC pipes which are used to stabilize thermal degradation. The directions came on a plea filed by NGO Jan Sahyog Manch seeking directions to take remedial and preventive steps regarding the environment and ecological damage caused by the use of lead in the manufacturing of Lead PVC pipes and other products.

“Use of lead contaminates water traveling through PVC pipes is silently leaving a shocking effect on the life of humans. The public generally, in the absence of any printed or visual information, is continuously consuming water traveling through PVC pipes made by using lead stabilizers and which may result in many effects on health,” the NGO claimed.

Noting the harmful effects of lead, the NGT said “in view of the discussions, particularly on the potential adverse health effects due to presence of lead in water flowing through PVC pipes, we feel it necessary that the entire matter of usage of lead as stabiliser in PVC pipes and its desired standards needs to be examined expeditiously on scientific grounds by the MoEF, based on environmental considerations,” a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said.

The NGO has also sought directions to the respondents for constituting an appropriate body to regulate and verify the manufacturing process of the plastic pipes. It called for directions for withdrawal of PVC pipes, containing lead-based heat stabilizer, out of the market and banning the use of such stabilisers.

Lead PVC pipes

Leading pipe manufacturing companies and producers of non-toxic materials for PVC will be closely watched by Dalal Street traders in the coming days after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) asked the government last week to lay down standards against the use of toxic lead material in PVC pipes. Jan Sahyog Manch, an NGO that had filed a petition with the NGT argued that water passing through PVC pipes commonly used in most houses contained toxic materials like lead that is hazardous for human health. Lead is widely used as heat stabiliser in PVC products as it is the cheapest source.

“It would be a serious issue for some of the Lead PVC pipes manufacturing companies if government completely bans the use of lead as a stabiliser in pipes,” said Purvesh Shelatkar, head of equity, Centrum Broking. “If companies are holding huge stock of lead or finished material, it will have to be disposed of or remade. But the same ruling may boost prospects of companies manufacturing substitutes for lead to be used in PVC pipes. “About 50% of India’s PVC pipe and other material demand is met by the top five or six companies and they will have to source an alternative for lead,” said Vikas Garg, MD, Vikas Ecotech. “The use of lead in PVC manufacturing is a great concern as even while organised players can be controlled by the government, a large business in the segment done by unorganised players who use lead and managing this could be a problem.”

Garg says Vikas Ecotech has formed lead free alternative for PVC pipe manufactures known as Organotin, which has emerged as the strongest heat stabilizer in PVC industry. The company also recently bagged an order from Mexichem, a leading global producer of PVC pipes.

The US and China already have laws to restrict the use of lead in PVC materials. India’s largest manufacturer of Lead-based products Waldies has to come out and draw their plans on how will the economy effect with the ban coming in place.