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Blue Water Copper Water Pipe Corrosion

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Michael Fox, PhD.

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Blue Water - Copper Water Pipe Corrosion - California

Home owners in the San Francisco East Bay area began to observe "blue water" emerging from their water taps in 1990. The cause of the blue water was corrosion of the copper pipes within the homes. Approximately a hundred homes were affected and the homeowners filed a consolidated law suit for many tens of millions of dollars against the builders, plumbing contractors, water company, etc.  Chemaxx was hired to examine the inside surface of the copper tubing to determine if the tubing was predisposed to corrosion.

SEM Photo of Carbon Deposits on inside of copper pipe.
SEM Photo of Carbon Deposits on inside of copper pipe.

Scanning elecron microscopy (SEM), energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDAX), conventional metallography, micro-hardness measurements and other experimental techniques were used to examine this question. The existence of an organic carbon film, an artifact of the manufacturing process, was found to be a consistent factor associated with the "blue water" problem.  The level of chlorine in the water may have also played a role.

Dr. Fox is a nationally recognized metallurgy expert, corrosion expert and failure analysis expert who has published numerous peer-reviewed, scientific papers in these fields. He worked for years as a bench scientist and a research manager in the fields of corrosion, metallurgy and failure analysis of materials in nuclear reactors.