Years ago, my wise friend, Miss H warned me about drinking from a garden hose. I responded with a “huh?” Didn’t we all drink from a garden hose on a summer’s day? She replied that there is lead in some hoses.
From that point on no one in my house drank from a hose. But I continued to use those same hoses to water my garden. Listed below are some preventable measures you can use to protect your garden and yourself from harmful toxic chemicals.
Garden Products Tested
Recently, HealthyStuff. org tested 179 common garden products, which included 90 garden hoses, 53 gloves, 13 kneeling pads and 23 garden tools. Many of these items were purchased from our neighbor big box stores such as Home Depot, Lowes, K-Mart Target and Wal-mart. (Remember, some of the same stores that are being asked by the “Mind the Store” campaign not to sell products containing the 100+ hazardous chemical?)
In regards to testing garden hoses, the team left sections of the hoses full of water in the sun for multiple days.
The Organization found the following:
- “Two-thirds (70.4% – 126 of 179) of products tested contained enough chemicals of concern to be ranked “high concern” in our ranking system, which means we detected high levels of one or more chemical hazards.
- 7.3% (13 products) were medium concern
- 22.3% (40 products) were low concern
- Overall, 30% of all products contained over 100 ppm lead in one or more component. 100 ppm is the Consumer Product Safety Commission Standard (CPSC) for lead in children’s products.
- Lead and phthalates were found in water hoses and gloves at levels exceeding Consumer Product Safety Commission standards for other products.
- Lead was found in brass fitting for garden hoses at levels exceeding standards for brass in residential water fixtures. Garden hose ARE NOT regulated by the SDWA.
- Water samples from a representative hose contained numerous chemical hazards, including lead, phthalates and BPA.”
Okay, What Does This all Mean?
The above chemicals according to HealthyStuff.org are linked to birth defects, liver toxicity, impaired learning, premature births and early puberty in laboratory animals, as well as other serious health problems.
What Can You Do?
Here are some preventable measures you can use:
1. Let it Run. Let the the hose run for a few seconds to flush water left in the hose. (*Guilty*)
2. Put on the shades. Store your hoses in the shade. (*Guilty* again. I hate dragging my hoses all around the garden. Looks like I am going to get an arm work-out dragging that hose back and forth.)
3. Don’t drink from the hose! Make sure the hose is labeled safe for drinking. And STILL flush it out before drinking
4. Carry then Wash. Wash you hands after handling your hose. Lead can still be transferred from hands to mouth. A recent study indicates children with low levels of lead in their blood scored lower on reading readiness tests when they began kindergarten.
5. Buy a lead-free hose. HealthyStuff.org states,
“[t]he hoses are often white with a thin blue stripe, and are commonly sold in marine and recreational vehicle (RV) stores. An RV lead-free garden hose can also come in a beige color with blue stripe, to match the beige paint of many RVs. Although sold for RV and marine use, these hoses serve as great lead-free garden hoses.”
In addition, you can buy a rubber hose or a a top-quality, food grade polyurethane hose that meets Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards. See HealthyStuff.org’s list of non-PVC hoses here.
6. Test your soil for lead. Note, it is a good idea anyways especially if lead paint was used in your house. For more information about lead, see here.
7. Avoid PVC hoses. Period. End of story. Other toxic chemicals were found in several products such as BPA.
8. Brass isn’t always better. Lastly, watch out for the brass fittings.
” The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) limits lead in brass in residential water fixtures to no more than 2,500 ppm. Garden hose ARE NOT regulated by the SDWA, and our test show 29% of brass connectors contained greater than 2,500 ppm lead. Opt for a hose that is drinking water safe and lead free. Non-brass fittings (nickel, aluminum or stainless) are more likely to be lead-free.” (Emphasis added.)
Guess what I have? Brass fittings. (*Doom*)
Hose Have Been in Hot Water Before.
HealthyStuff.org mentioned two other investigations:
- In 2003, Consumer Reports tested 16 hoses and found worrisome amounts of chemicals leached from some of the hoses. They repeated the story in 2010.
- In 2007 , ABC’s Phoenix affiliate KNXV-TV released a study that 5 out of 10 hoses purchased leached high levels of lead.
So, who is minding the store? Seriously?
Join the Conversation:
- Can you recycle these hoses?
- Have you purchased lead free hoses?
- How will you change your hose patterns?