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Repair technique for water pipes may be hazardous

Connecticut workers who regularly repair water pipes as part of their jobs should be aware of the results of a study conducted by researchers at Purdue University. The researchers contend that the cured-in-place pipe repair method emits dangerous substances in the air and should be reassessed for the dangers that it may present to workers, the general public and the environment.

The cured-in-place pipe repair method entails placing a tube made of resin-reinforced fabric inside a damaged tube. It is then cured using pressurized steam, ultraviolet light or hot water to form a new pipe made of plastic. For the study, air test studies were conducted in California and Indiana at seven steam-cured cured-in-place pipe facilities. The facilities included five storm-water pipe installations and two sanitary sewer-pipe installations.

The results of the air tests showed that the steam clouds that were released during the repair process contained organic compounds and vapors. Included in these substances were endocrine disruptors and carcinogens. The findings challenge the long-held belief that the repair process is safe. According to an assistant professor of engineering at Purdue University, the cured-in-place pipe technology accounts for half of the water pipe repairs in the nation. The immediate and long-terms effects on workers and the general public who are exposed to the hazardous chemicals have to be determined. It will also be necessary to initiate technological and operational changes to provide protection from the exposures.

Workers' compensation benefits can be available for people who become ill after toxic exposure at their workplace. An attorney who has experience with these matters can often assist with the preparation and filing of a claim.

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