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Method for repairing water pipes may be hazardous

Oklahoma construction workers who repair water pipes may be interested to learn that a common procedure used to do the repairs may actually release hazardous chemicals into the air. As such, researchers from Purdue University said that the method should be re-evaluated to determine what the risks are for workers, the environment and the public.

The method involves inserting a fabric tube that has been impregnated with resin into a damaged pipe. The fabric is then cured with ultraviolet light, pressurized steam or hot water. This method, called the cured-in-place pipe repair method, is used in about 50 percent of all water pipe repairs in the nation. The researchers found that the steam plumes that the method causes actually contain organic vapors and compounds. Some of these organic vapors are known endocrine disruptors and carcinogens.

The researchers noted that there was no known study that determined what exposure limits to the organic vapors were safe for workers and other individuals. Additionally, there was no study indicating whether or not skin exposure or inhaling the mixture was safe. Even further, there was no study available that showed if the mixture had an impact on the environment. As such, it was suggested that the workers wear chemically resistant gloves when repairing water pipes using this method and to report any signs of illness or odors.

Workplace injuries and illnesses caused by exposure to chemical hazards can cause workers to suffer long-term consequences that could prevent them from working in the future. Those who suffered injuries while working with toxic or hazardous chemicals may be entitled to file for workers' compensation benefits to help them recover damages associated with the workplace accident. An attorney could walk a worker through the process of reporting the accident to the employer and through filing the claim.

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