This past June, the Ecology Center released a study examining the possibility of harmful contaminants in common everyday garden hoses. This was an update to their findings from similar studies done in 2011, 2012, and 2013.
What they found in the 32 hoses they tested was worrying levels of harmful contaminants, including lead, bromine, chlorine, antimony, tin, and phthalates. The worst offenders were hoses that contained PVC. 29% of PVC hoses containing at least 100 parts per million (ppm) of lead, 75% containing phthalates, and 50% containing greater than 1,000 ppm of bromine and greater than 500 ppm antimony. Many of the PVC hoses use recycled electronic vinyl waste, which contributes to the high levels of bromine, lead, antimony, and tin in the hoses. Hoses made of rubber or polyurethane did not contain significant levels of any of the contaminants.
The metal fittings on the ends of the tested hoses also pose potential hazards. Of the tested hoses, 15% of metal fittings contain lead. This, however, marks a definite improvement over five years ago when 40% of metal fittings tested contained lead. Of important note is of the five polyurethane hoses tested, two were labelled “drinking water safe” with no contaminants in the hose or fittings. However, of the other three that were not labelled “drinking water safe,” two had metal fittings that contained lead. On top of that, of the ten hoses in the study that were labelled “drinking water safe,” three contained potentially harmful phthalates (all three are PVC hoses), but were free of significant levels of lead, bromine, antimony, and tin. Therefore, it is important to remember when purchasing garden hoses, you must be careful which ones you choose. If they are not labelled “drinking water safe” or “lead-free,” they may contain harmful contaminants that can negatively impact the lives of you and your family.
Written by: Peter Brian Richey