Is the Pipe Poisonous?
Many ask the question about PVC pipe, should I use it in my home or commercial project.
Most folk use PVC mostly because at this time there is not much else readily available. Some folk really worry about PVC. There is a load of info out there on this kind of subject but, we need to remember, "the road to better, purer food is a journey, not a destination" In other words, we need to use the best materials that are available to us today. Don't stop the journey because of a small difficulty. It is far, far better to go ahead and produce clean carefully grown food. Keep moving forward on the journey.
The plasticizers in PVC that some worry about, and in other types of plastics need to be fairly warm before they start to gas off. Additionally, the inside of the pipe work will be very quickly coated with a layer of biofilm thereby effectively sealing off the PVC from direct contact with the system water. I realise this is an emotive issue with some folk but we need to achieve a balance and use the very best materials we can secure for our project. Some folk who will just not use PVC because of the perceived problems still commute to work in their plastic car, ride in plastic lined aircraft, work in a plastic office, sit on chairs filled with very dangerous plastics and so on. In short, we are surrounded by plastic of one kind or another. The exposure of the Aquaponics system water to any danger, real or otherwise is so small by comparison to other plastic products.
Aquaponically grown produce is way, way better than anything on the supermarket shelf, even if we do have some materials to deal with that may be slightly less than our ideal.
The ideal material at this time is HDPE. There is plenty of HDPE pipe, but the fittings are extraordinary expensive. HDPE pipe can be obtained at most irrigation supply stores. You will not usually find it in plumbing stores or hardware stores. HDPE stands for High-Density Poly Ethylene. Poly Ethylene is said to be the only really food safe plastic material along with common old fiberglass made from properly cured polyester resin.
So, the important thing to do is get started, be prepared to use better materials when they become available, but....get on the road to better, more sustainable, nutritionally dense food for you and your loved ones.