Guide to Identifying Asbestos Cement Transite Water Pipes & their Hazards in buildings
TRANSITE WATER PIPES - CONTENTS: Asbestos-containing transite water pipes - is there a health hazard from drinking water that is delivered through cement asbestos water pipes?Vinyl-lined Transite Asbestos Pipe Hazards. Practical Hazards & Risks of Transite Water Supply Piping Mains. Safety hazards associated with transite pipe cement asbestos materials in buildings. How to recognize asbestos transite pipe materials in building chimneys, air ducts, water pipes
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Transite Asbestos Cement Pipes: this article assists in the recognition of transite pipe used for water pipes, and discusses potential hazards of this material when it is
found in buildings.
Transite pipe is an asbestos-cement product which was used for both HVAC ducts and for chimney or flue material to vent gas-fired appliances as well as for water piping in some communities.
This article explains the potential health hazards (asbestos exposure by ingestion) as well as practical problems (fragility, collapse, expense of replacement) of cement asbestos transite pipe water piping and we provide citations to authoritative studies of this question. This document assists building buyers, owners or inspectors who need to identify asbestos materials (or probable-asbestos) in buildings by simple
We provide photographs and descriptive text of asbestos insulation and other asbestos-containing products
to permit identification of definite, probable, or possible asbestos materials in buildings.
Guide to Health Hazards of Transite Pipe Cement-asbestos Water Piping
Transite pipe or asbestos-cement pipes were used for water supply systems in some municipalities up into the 1970's in the U.S. and probably in other countries. In some cities (Ellwood PA for example), the transite water mains were found to be unable to reliably withstand high water pressures (up to 225 psi in Ellwood according to one of our readers) and the pipes were easily broken.
Asbestos fibers may be ingested from water supplied through transite water piping. Transite piping
deteriorates over time, releasing asbestos fibers from the interior of the pipe
into the drinking water flowing through that conduit. The level of health risk from ingested asbestos fibers is uncertain and probably low. An NIH report prepared by industry experts concluded:
The work group believes that the cancer risk associated with asbestos ingestion should not be perceived as one of the most pressing potential public health hazards facing the nation.
However, the work group does not believe that information was sufficient to assess the level of cancer risk associated with the ingestion and therefore, this potential hazard should not be discounted, and ingestion exposure to asbestos should be eliminated whenever possible.
Cancer mortality for the population census tracts of Escambia County, FL, which use asbestos-cement (AC) pipe for public potable water distribution, was compared with cancer mortality data collected from census tracts in the same county where other types of piping materials are used. An analysis of covariance was run to test for differences in standard mortality ratios for seven cancer sites among three potential asbestos exposure groups based on AC pipe usage.
Twelve variables representing nonexposure-related influences on disease rates were combined in four independent factors and used as covariates in these analyses.
No evidence for an association between the use of AC pipe for carrying drinking water and deaths due to gastrointestinal and related cancers was found. The limitations on the sensitivity of the analysis are discussed.
ASBESTOS DUCTS, HVAC - Guide to Identification of Asbestos Materials On or In Heating and Cooling Duct Work: carbon monoxide hazards of transite chimneys and vents
TRANSITE PIPE AIR DUCTS - Hazards of Asbestos-containing Transite Pipe HVAC Ducts: duct collapse, mold, radon, asbestos fiber release
While an expert lab test using polarized light microscopy may be needed to identify the specific type of
asbestos fiber, or to identify the presence of asbestos in air dust or water samples, many asbestos-containing building products
not only are obvious and easy to recognize, but since there were not other look-alike products that were not asbestos, a visual identification of this material can be virtually a certainty in many cases. Links to U.S. government and other authoritative research and advice are included.
Vinyl-lined Transite Asbestos Pipe Hazards
A more immediate water quality hazard has been detected in some vinyl-lined transite water pipes - Tetrachloroethylene. A report on the Sandwich water district on Cape Cod in Massachusetts reported that
"PCE was detected in the distribution system at an annual average of 0.8 parts per billion, which is below the limit set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This substance leaches into the water from vinyl lined transite water pipe. In order to address this problem, in 2002 approximately 8,500 feet of water mains were sealed with an epoxy coating resulting in a dramatic decrease in PCE levels. "
Practical Hazards & Risks of Transite Water Supply Piping Mains
Leaks in transite water supply piping underground can result in substantial water losses in districts where this piping was used.
Locating transite water supply mains: We've been informed that excavators complain that its lack of metal makes locating transite water pipes difficult - one cannot use ordinary metal detectors.
Of course a buried pipe of non-metallic material might be located if it is possible to insert a sending probe inside its length but on a water main this procedure is impractical. Contractors joke that they find transite pipe by using the metal bucket of a backhoe as a pipe detector.
Replacement costs for transite water supply piping: because of its age, leaks, fragility, and difficulty of finding transite cement asbestos water supply mains and water piping without also damaging it at the same time, owners of properties and communities served by cement asbestos water pipes (transite) can expect to face increasing costs to replace that piping.
Incorrect spellings of transite piping or transite duct material that we've seen include transit pipe, transit ducts,
Transide pipe, transide ducts, tranisite pipe, and transight pipe. "Transite" is the correct spelling.
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Thanks to Roger Hankey & Cheryll Brown, www.hankeyandbrown.com, ASHI home inspectors in Minnesota, for the deteriorated transite pipe gas flue vent photograph and comments. Mr. Hankey is a past chairman of the ASHI Technical Committee, serves as co-chairman of ASHI legislative committee, and has served in other ASHI professional and leadership roles. 7/2007.
12/2008: thanks to an anonymous reader DG, GE Infra, Transportation, for editorial comments and suggestions about transite water supply piping.
That reader commented:
Transite pipe was used in fresh water supply piping in some communities, and we have it in our subdivision,
I remember playing on the pile of left over pipe (1970's). It was 4-6" dia. and was probably
1/2-1" thick, the ends looked to be belt sanded to a taper.
Recently I was talking with a digging contractor, he swears at the stuff, as it cannot
be found (underground) with a metal detector, only the metal bucket of the
excavator. He says the the Ellwood city (in western PA) water system ran it
at about 225 psi, and just looking at it would break it.
Notes on the Sandwich water district, Cape Cod, MA, water quality report were obtained online at www.sandwichwater.com/sandwich-pg2-08-corrected.doc - 12/09/2008
"Report on cancer risks associated with the ingestion of asbestos. DHHS Committee to Coordinate Environmental and Related Programs", Environmental Health Perspectives 1987 June; 72: 253-265. This article is available from NIH at pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1474636 - the list of references for this study is extensive and quite useful.
Nicholson, WJ. Human cancer risk from ingested asbestos: a problem of uncertainty.Environ Health Perspect. 1983 Nov;53:111–113
Erdreich, LS. Comparing epidemiologic studies of ingested asbestos for use in risk assessment. Environ Health Perspect. 1983 Nov;53:99–104.
Millette, JR; Craun, GF; Stober, JA; Kraemer, DF; Tousignant, HG; Hildago, E; Duboise, RL; Benedict, J. Epidemiology study of the use of asbestos-cement pipe for the distribution of drinking water in Escambia County, Florida. Environ Health Perspect.1983 Nov;53:91–98. At PubMed via NIH www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6559131
"Epidemiology study of the use of asbestos-cement pipe for the distribution of drinking water in Escambia County, Florida,"
Millette JR, Craun GF, Stober JA, Kraemer DF, Tousignant HG, Hildago E, Duboise RL, Benedict J., Environmental Health Perspectives, 1983 Nov; 53:91-8.
June 1997 - Window Putty - OSHA case cites contractor for asbestos exposure during removal of window putty http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=1091
Asbestos Identification and Testing References
Asbestos Identification, Walter C.McCrone, McCrone Research Institute, Chicago, IL.1987 ISBN 0-904962-11-3. Dr. McCrone literally "wrote the book" on asbestos identification procedures which formed
the basis for current work by asbestos identification laboratories.
Stanton, .F., et al., National Bureau of Standards Special Publication 506: 143-151
Pott, F., Staub-Reinhalf Luft 38, 486-490 (1978) cited by McCrone
Asbestos in Your Home U.S. EPA, Exposure Evaluation Division, Office of Toxic Substances, Office of Pesticides and Toxic Substances, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington,D.C. 20460
Asbestos products and their history and use in various building materials such as asphalt and vinyl flooring includes discussion which draws on Asbestos, Its Industrial Applications, D.V. Rosato, engineering consultant, Newton, MA, Reinhold Publishing, 1959 Library of Congress Catalog Card No.: 59-12535 (out of print, text and images available at InspectAPedia.com).
"Handling Asbestos-Containing roofing material - an update", Carl Good, NRCA Associate Executive Director, Professional Roofing, February 1992, p. 38-43
EPA Guidance for Controlling Asbestos-Containing Materials in buildings, NIAST, National Institute on Abatement Sciences & Technology, [republishing EPA public documents] 1985 ed., Exposure Evaluation Division, Office of Toxic Substances, Office of Pesticides and Toxic Substances, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington,D.C. 20460
Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair
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