PEX subject to environmental review by California's Building Standards Commission; local jurisdictions can go ahead with their own approval of the use of PEX.

The California Court of Appeals in Los Angeles issued a ruling last November that PEX pipe used in building, plumbing and fire codes will now be subject to environmental review by California's Building Standards Commission in the 2001 plumbing code. The decision was finalized Dec. 15, 2004, when the appeals court reissued the original November decision, which will now stand as a published precedent in the state.

However, local jurisdictions can go ahead with their own approval of the use of PEX in counties and cities.

“Nothing in the decision by the Appeals Court prohibits the state from including PEX in the updated 2004 Uniform Plumbing Code,” said Richard W. Church, executive director of the Plastic Pipe and Fittings Association.

Uponor Wirsbo said its PEX pipe was introduced in California in 1990 and that the product helps solve problems in areas with aggressive soil conditions that copper pipe cannot solve. “We feel very confident about California,” said Ingrid Mattsson, manager of marketing communications at the company. Uponor Wirsbo does not comment on sales figures.

The California State Pipe Trades Council was joined by environmental and consumer groups, such as the Sierra Club; the Planning and Conservation League; Consumer Federation; Communities for a Better Environment; the Center for Environmental Health; and the California Professional Firefighters Association, in urging the environmental review.

The groups said leaching of toxic chemicals and premature rupture had been discovered with other plastic drinking water pipe materials and PEX must be studied to be sure it does not have the same problems.

PEX has been used in the United States for more than 30 years and has passed the most stringent tests for safety and durability established by the various national testing laboratories, according to Church. PEX is included in all of the major model plumbing codes used in the United States and Canada, CSA, IAPMO, SBCCI, BOCA, ICBO, IPC and NSPC, and approved by HUD for hot and cold potable water plumbing use, PPFA reports on its Web site (

The KWD-globalpipe newsletter published the opinions and findings of the case, “Plastic Pipe and Fittings Association vs. California Building Standards Commission,” held on Dec. 15 in its Jan. 7, 2005, newsletter.