Benzene permeation through drinking water HDPE pipes

Mao F, Ong SK, Gaunt JA. Modeling benzene permeation through drinking water high density polyethylene (HDPE) pipes. Journal of water and health. 2015 Sep;13(3):758-72. doi: 10.2166/wh.2015.183.

Organic compounds such as benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene and o-, m-, and p-xylene from contaminated soil and groundwater may permeate through thermoplastic pipes which are used for the conveyance of drinking water in water distribution systems. In this study, permeation parameters of benzene in 25 mm (1 inch) standard inside dimension ratio (SIDR) 9 high density polyethylene (HDPE) pipes were estimated by fitting the measured data to a permeation model based on a combination of equilibrium partitioning and Fick’s diffusion. For bulk concentrations between 6.0 and 67.5 mg/L in soil pore water, the concentration-dependent diffusion coefficients of benzene were found to range from 2.0 × 10(-9) to 2.8 × 10(-9)cm(2)/s while the solubility coefficient was determined to be 23.7. The simulated permeation curves of benzene for SIDR 9 and SIDR 7 series of HDPE pipes indicated that small diameter pipes were more vulnerable to permeation of benzene than large diameter pipes, and the breakthrough of benzene into the HDPE pipe was retarded and the corresponding permeation flux decreased with an increase of the pipe thickness. HDPE pipes exposed to an instantaneous plume exhibited distinguishable permeation characteristics from those exposed to a continuous source with a constant input. The properties of aquifer such as dispersion coefficients (DL) also influenced the permeation behavior of benzene through HDPE pipes.

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