The median age of homes in the US is about 37 years old. Homes in the Northeast part of the country are approximately 57 years old, which means many of these homes used cast iron pipes in their plumbing. Cast iron was an innovative material that enjoyed a golden era of use in home construction from the early 19th century up until the early 1980s. In the 1930s, indoor plumbing became more common. At that time, cast iron pipes were the only option available, so entire neighborhoods of homes are still inhabited today that have this kind of plumbing.
While cast iron is known for its durability and strength, the material does have a downside in that over time, the material corrodes. Furthermore, these pipes are put together using joints, straight fittings, and screws that contain lead more often than not. Making cast iron pipes is hugely labor-intensive and, therefore, costly. When PVC pipes were invented, builders and plumbers switched because PVC is easier to make, offers excellent tensile strength, and allows builders more flexibility.
When cast iron pipes age, they are more likely to break or leak, which introduces a whole host of problems. Although it's very costly to replace an entire home's plumbing, landlords have a duty to ensure their tenets don't suffer illnesses or personal property damage because they want to delay investing in modern plumbing. Suppose you think you or your family has been harmed by old cast iron plumbing. In that case, you may wonder what to know about cast iron pipe injuries and if you have legal recourse against your landlord. We're here to help. Contact us today about a possible claim. Here are just some of the serious issues regarding old cast iron pipes.
Damaged cast iron pipes can cause health concerns
Some home repairs can wait, like peeling wallpaper, holes in drywall, and other cosmetic annoyances. Still, a leaky cast iron pipe has to be addressed quickly because of health risks.
Class 3 water - This is also known as black water and is dark, dirty water that can be full of contaminants like backed-up sewage, fungi, bacteria, all of which can cause serious illness. When a cast iron pipe isn't draining properly because of a leak or break, your home's wastewater has to go somewhere, which is why you may be seeing this kind of water in sinks, bathtubs, and showers. Exposure to this kind of water is a serious health hazard, especially to children and pets that may not understand the dangers.
Pest infestation - Breaks in cast iron plumbing can allow contaminants from the surrounding soil, and pests like rodents and roaches into your home. Besides being disgusting, these pests bring disease and cause damage to your possessions. Rodents can chew through electrical wires, causing fire hazards and also wreak havoc on soft materials like clothing, stored items, and furniture. Rodent feces, urine, saliva, and blood are also known to transmit life-threatening diseases such as Hantavirus, Tularemia, and Plague. The most common way people become ill from rodents is through rodent contaminated food.
Cockroach infestation - Cockroaches carry bacteria, and when they come into contact with food, these bacteria can cause salmonella, staphylococcus, and streptococcus. All of these bacteria can lead to serious infections. They can even be deadly, especially for children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems. According to the World Health Organization, cockroach infestation has been linked to intestinal diseases like dysentery, typhoid fever, diarrhea, and cholera. Cockroaches' enzymes have been linked to severe allergic reactions and asthma.
Mold - Cast iron pipes are most commonly out of sight, which means leaks or breakages can be hidden, thus giving mold a prime habitat in which to grow and pollute your home. Exposure to mold can cause a variety of health problems ranging from allergic responses like sneezing, skin rash, runny nose, and red eyes. In people that have asthma, exposure can cause asthma attacks. Exposure to black mold can be very harmful over a long period of time. Still, if a person already has health problems, even short-term exposure can cause harm. Research has shown that infants and children exposed to mold have an increased risk of developing asthma.
Polluting aquifers - Broken cast iron pipes can contaminate local underground water sources like aquifers, which means the pollutants not only can make you ill but also your neighbors. If you believe that your neighbors' neglected cast iron pipes are the source of unexplained illnesses, one of our personal injury lawyers may be able to help you get compensation.