PEX has been used in Europe for over 60 years; and is approved in all 50 states to use not only for heating, but also for potable water applications. However, since the history of the product is relatively short (especially in comparison to centuries of copper usage) many consumers are still not at ease over using plastic for their potable and heating needs and have concerns over safety of the material.
PEX safety concerns can be subdivided into two categories: potential health threats and issues pertaining to quality and durability of the product.
Though it is not unusual to be cautious towards new product and materials, it should be mentioned that PEX has passed numerous rigorous testing and inspections by multiple agencies and organizations such as ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) and NSF (National Sanitation Foundation). Many companies, such as Bow, Everhot, Uponor, and others manufacture PEX to ASTM standards F876/F877/F2023 and NSF certifications.
When it comes to physical characteristics, PEX may be considered to be safer than other materials. Being flexible, tubing requires a smaller amount of connections and fittings to be made, therefore reducing a chance of leakage in the future.
PEX performs better in freezing temperatures than many other materials. As water freezes and expands, tubing can actually expand and decrease the chance of bursting.
Overall, the product’s history, approval process, physical qualities and millions of satisfied customers should provide enough aspects to analyze and conclude that PEX tubing is safe to use for hydronic radiant heating and PEX plumbing applications.