Evaluation of the environmental effects of piping materials used in buildings

At the moment, copper pipes are not allowed in domestic water networks in eco-labelled houses according to the Swan label. The criteria are the same in all Nordic countries. Dissenting views have been expressed, in particular on the need to allow copper pipes for use in residential and comparable buildings. In Sweden, some parties are opposed to the use of copper pipes, as it has been alleged e.g. to degrade the quality of sewage sludge. In Finland, the copper industry has not accepted this view. At the request of the Finnish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, SYKE investigated the environmental impact and possible harmfulness of pipe materials used in buildings, mainly plastic and copper.

No piping material was found to cause adverse health effects. Some experts, on the other hand, have been concerned about the environmental effects of water-soluble copper from copper pipes, but no clear justification was found. Copper is an element that plants and organisms need as a trace element. Based on the study, the amount of copper soluble in the copper pipes was low and no concentrations exceeding the recommendations were detected in the water bodies.

Final report

Assessment of pipe materials used in buildings - Carbon footprint and health and toxicity effects (pdf)

Further information

Jyrki Laitinen, Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) 

Published 2021-01-07 at 15:34, updated 2021-01-07 at 15:33