The interaction of surfactants with plastic and copper plumbing materials during decontamination

Karen S. Casteloes, Gamini P. Mendis, Holly K. Avins, John A. Howarter, Andrew J. Whelton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The study goal was to examine the effectiveness of surfactants to decontaminate plastic and copper potable water plumbing components. Several common potable water pipe and gasket plastics were examined as well as Alconox®detergent, Dawn®soap, and MAGIT-DG 100 surfactants. Results showed that the MAGIT-DG 100 solutions permeated all plastics within 3 days, effectively compromising tensile strength (−82%), physical dimension (+43% volume, +45% weight), and oxidative resistance (−15%). A variety of MAGIT-DG 100 solution compounds permeated plastic samples, not just the declared major ingredient. PVC and cPVC pipes sorbed the least amount of this solution's components of all the plastic pipes tested. Alconox®and Dawn®solutions caused minimal changes to the physical and mechanical properties of all plastics examined. Crosslinked polyethylene type A (PEX-a) pipe was more susceptible to crude oil contamination than copper pipe. Flushing with a pure water Alconox®solution mixture removed all benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and total xylenes (BTEX) from copper pipe. No decontamination method affected BTEX removal from PEX pipe. Under certain conditions surfactant solutions have the potential to alter material integrity and may not be a viable option in removing hydrophobic organic compounds from plastic pipe.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8-16
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
StatePublished - 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


Dive into the research topics of 'The interaction of surfactants with plastic and copper plumbing materials during decontamination'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this