Interesting article that considers deterioration of ageing pipes, the position of World Health Organisation and research in the UK and across the world.

Hundreds of thousands of miles of pipes made from asbestos cement deliver drinking water to people around the world, but are reaching the end of their lifespan and starting to degrade. Scientists are now debating whether this could pose a risk to human health.

The article references a 2020 report by UK Water Industry Research (UKWIR), a body which is supported by the water companies. Around 60% of the 31,000 miles (50,000km) of asbestos cement water pipes in the UK and Ireland were installed more than 50 years ago, meaning that many are reaching the age of failure. These figures were confirmed by requests to all water companies in the UK, which revealed some pipes are thought to be more than a century old. Most UK water companies report asbestos cement pipes being installed in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s.

The UKWIR’s National Failure Database, which looks at when and how pipes fail, reveals that the highest rate of deterioration is in pipes installed after 1960. The report warns that burst rates for such pipes are increasing by 28% on average in each decade. Yet, it could cost between £5-8bn ($6-10bn) to replace the stock of asbestos cement water mains currently in use in the UK and Ireland.

The UKWIR says similar patterns of pipe failures can be found in Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

Read more

No Comment

Comments are closed.