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City of Seattle
Ed Murray, Mayor

SUBJECT: City Lauded for Replacement of Toxic Piping with Earth-Friendly Product

3/29/2005  1:00:00 PM
Richard Gelb, (206) 684-0631

City Lauded for Replacement
of Toxic Piping with Earth-Friendly Product

“We must set the standard for maintaining a safe and healthy environment.”

SEATTLE – Mayor Greg Nickels praised Seattle Parks and Recreation for replacing 34,000 feet of plastic drainage pipe at a large Magnuson Park sports field with a safer, non-toxic product.

Working with environmental health organizations, Parks replaced polyvinyl chloride pipe – commonly known as PVC – with a product made from a plastic called high density polyethylene, or HDPE.

The change is part of the City's ongoing strategy to reduce its use of products that can result in the creation and release of dangerous toxins.

“As a city, we must set the standard for maintaining a safe and healthy environment,” Nickels said. “And that means making smart choices when it comes to the materials we use in our parks and other public places.”

The main concern with PVC piping is its manufacture and disposal; PVC itself generally poses little human or environmental health risk in routine uses.

PVC has been linked with the release of persistent bioaccumulative toxins, or PBTs. PBTs build up in the food chain and do not break down easily, posing risks to human health and the environment. They have been associated with nervous and reproductive system effects, developmental problems, cancer, and genetic damage.

"We applaud the City's decision to protect human health and the environment by choosing a safer alternative," said Brandie Smith, environmental health advocate with the Washington Toxics Coalition. "We are proud of the national leadership role the City has taken in eliminating persistent toxic pollution by changing purchasing practices."

According to a recent study, high density polyethylene releases far less persistent toxic pollution and is much easier to recycle than PVC piping. Read more at

City of Seattle architects and engineers are enthusiastic about HDPE because it is a higher quality product. "HDPE is less prone to cracking and easier to install,” said Jim Ishihara, Park Engineer. “The fact that there are no solvent glues used in the joining process will be a real boost to worker health and safety."

Visit the mayor’s web site at Get the mayor’s inside view on initiatives to promote transportation, public safety, economic opportunity and healthy communities by signing up for The Nickels Newsletter at

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