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Pipe repair technique could lead to dangerous toxic exposure

One popular method of pipe repair in New York and across the United States could potentially expose workers to dangerous chemical fumes, according to study results. Cured-in-place pipe repair, or CIPP, is an innovative method of repairing cracked or damaged plastic water and sewer pipes that is commonly used across the country.

The repair method involves inserting a fabric tube impregnated with plastic resins inside the damaged pipe. Once the fabric tube is in place, it is "cured" with an intensely hot substance like boiling water, pressurized steam or even a stream of ultraviolet light. This creates a solid and undamaged plastic pipe in place of the previously broken pipe section. Because of the ease of this method, it has become a favored form.

However, researchers engaged in a study of the method by examining seven sites where steam-cured CIPP was used to repair sewer and water pipes. A plume was generated by the repair, and it was previously thought to consist of the steam used in the process. However, when studied, the plumes were found to contain a number of organic compounds and vapors, including carcinogens and endocrine disruptors.

Researchers expressed the importance of additional study in order to understand potential effects of these compounds on workers. The topic has not been studied in the past, and the results point to the need for greater understanding of potential consequences. They also urged the use of safety precautions and protective gear for workers engaged in these repairs.

People who become ill due to toxic exposure at the workplace could be eligible to receive workers' compensation benefits. As the nexus between an illness and workplace environment could be difficult to prove, people in this position might want to have the assistance of an attorney when preparing their claims.

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