IAFF and UA Call for Building Code Changes to Restrict Plastic Piping

June 4 • 2019

As part of ongoing efforts to reduce the risks associated with the carcinogens and toxins in plastics as they burn, the IAFF and the United Association of Plumbers, Fitters, Welders and Service Techs (UA) are calling on developers, builders and code officials to reduce and restrict the use of plastics in building construction.

“We know that when plastics burn, they emit carcinogens and increase the risk of occupational illness and death for fire fighters,” says General President Harold Schaitberger. “We are proud to stand with the UA in educating stakeholders and the public on this issue of public health.”

When burned, plastic produces toxic gases and can cause fires to spread more quickly and easily, creating an immediate hazard for fire fighters and the public. Plastic water piping can also leach hydrocarbons, benzene and other cancer-causing chemicals into drinking water, as it did in the Paradise wildfire in California.

“Just as fire fighters have always been there to protect us in emergencies, the plumbers and pipefitters have been quietly and successfully protecting the health and safety of the nation for almost 100 years,” says UA General President Mark McManus. “There are plenty of safe, sustainable and recyclable materials available today that don’t pose health risks to workers or the public.  This initiative is about choosing the safest and most durable option in product selection.”