by B. Michael Ferweda
Don’t drink from that hose! Did you know that many of today’s garden hoses contain lead, chlorine, bromine, cadmium, phthalates and bispenal A (BPA) that leach into the hose water that you swallow, give to your pets and use to water your organic garden?
The presence of lead, phthalates, and BPA in garden hoses, proves to be the most shocking, as many of us drank from the watering hose as kids. Years ago, hoses contained different materials than they do now, although they may have still contained harmful chemicals found in the brass fittings and linings. Now all garden hoses made from PVC (rather than rubber or other material) contain phthalates and BPA. Phthalates, a plasticizer, have been traced to hormone disruption, birth defects and cancer and other genetic changes in our bodies. BPA has been traced to cancer.
As many gardeners focus on growing produce for their family, they avoid using strong fertilizers, pesticides, and other contaminants. But often, organic gardeners are unaware of the dangers lurking in their common garden hose that may be delivering unsafe levels of toxins into the soil and root system of their organically grown food.
Ways to Reduce Water Contamination
The first thing to do is to make sure that the hose you are using is free from these harmful chemicals. Natural rubber or Polyurethane water hoses are now being manufactured to avoid the risk of chemical contamination and the potential harmful effects on your family.
One such drinking water safe hose is the Gatorhyde Lead-Free Garden Hose. This is one of my favorite brands as they are made in America and are 100% lead free. They contain no harmful contaminations or BPA. Other hose manufacturers are also producing products to meet the US water act requirements but I have not yet found another garden hose as safe and as user friendly as the Gatorhyde hose. Even the brass fittings that normally contain lead content (lead is used to increase the malleable qualities of brass) is plated to prevent exposure. Additionally, the Gatorhyde hose is commercial strength, lightweight, kink-free, and is made from 50% recycled polyurethane.
Another way to reduce lead exposure is to be aware of the quality of nozzle you are using. Brass residential water fittings and nozzles are not under regulation from the Safe Drinking Water Act of 2013, so not all residential products meet the requirement of having less than 2,500 ppm of lead. Many garden hose connectors have been found to have more than 2,500 ppm of lead. One great option we have found is a small, yet extremely versatile hose nozzle called The Little Big Shot. The brass nozzle utilizes a silicon insert that runs along the entire water canal to prevent lead contamination. Note: currently there is no information on any chemical transfer from silicone used in this manner and silicone has been passed by the FDA as having no toxic transfer.
The other benefits of the Little Big Shot include delivering 40% more pressure with 40% less water consumption! In addition, the Little Big Shot is made in America and assembled by our disabled veterans. The nozzle is a small price to pay to put our veterans back to work.
If you are concerned about lead exposure you should do the following:
- Conduct a soil test to determine if contamination has occurred.
- Do not leave garden tools and hoses in the sun or in high heat conditions.
- Never drink from unlabeled hoses, and/or fill pet water dishes, children’s pools or other containers that allow contact bodily contact.
- Always flush water from the hose before using. Flush into an area of the yard that is not frequented by humans or pets.