Popular Pipe Fix Appears to Be Making People Sick

'USA Today' investigates cured-in-place pipe repairs and their noxious fumes
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 2, 2023 10:35 AM CDT
Popular Pipe Fix May Pose a Health Risk
Stock image.   (Getty / glebchik)

As a way to repair buried pipelines, the idea is ingenious. Instead of digging up a street, for example, a crew can instead use a contraption that feeds a resin liner into the damaged water or sewer line. It gets inflated with air, then cured to harden with steam, and, voila, you have a quick new "pipe within a pipe," explains USA Today. The procedure is known as cured-in-place pipe lining, or CIPP, and it appears to be on its way to becoming an industry norm as municipalities across the US grapple with aging water pipelines. The problem is that the process releases potentially dangerous fumes—especially styrene, considered a probable carcinogen—and it appears to be making people sick, according to a USA Today investigation.

The story by Emily Le Coz and Monique O. Madan begins by ticking off examples of families having to vacate their homes because of the odor—one man compares it to plastic model cement—and another of a girl rushed to the hospital from her school in Wisconsin. "Dozens of similar incidents coast to coast have not only triggered headaches, nausea and evacuations but also sparked claims of lasting injuries and even death caused by noxious fumes," per the story. A big factor in all this is that the CIPP industry "is completely unregulated when it comes to public health," per the story. "No state or federal agency actively monitors work sites or requires safety protocols to eliminate or prevent harmful emissions from leaking into the environment." The industry insists the procedure is safe, though lawsuits are springing up to challenge that assertion. Read the full investigation. (Or check out other longform stories.)

Stories to sink your teeth into.
Get our roundup of longform stories every Saturday.
Sign up
We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.