Skip to content

Benzene Diffusion and Partitioning in Contaminated Drinking Water Pipes under Stagnant Conditions

APTIM Authors/Contributors

  • Nicole Sojda, Environmental Scientist, QATS T&E Facility
  • Donald A. Schupp, Project Manager, QATS T&E Facility


Benzene contamination in drinking water systems affected by wildfires is a problem of emerging concern. Polyethylene pipes used in service lines and premise plumbing are vulnerable to permeation by benzene and can potentially cause challenges in sampling and remediation of contaminated systems. However, the kinetics and equilibria of the uptake of benzene by and release of benzene from pipes of differing polyethylene types and manufacturers are not well studied, leading to additional uncertainty when interpreting sampling data and selecting remediation options. This work addresses this data gap by providing diffusion and partitioning data for benzene and several varieties of polyethylene pipes, including field samples from water distribution systems. All polyethylene pipes that were studied exhibited similar partitioning behavior during benzene uptake and release, but some differences in kinetics were observed among pipes. However, these differences were of minor practical importance in the pipe contamination scenario examined in this work. The results of this study can be used in conjunction with diffusion modeling to inform remediation decisions for benzene-contaminated, polyethylene service lines, and premise plumbing.

Read more.

APTIM. In Pursuit of Better.