Keep your cool – but not with the garden hose: Hot weather causes toxic chemicals to develop in hosepipe water, warn experts
15:25 GMT, 21 June 2012
The East Coast heatwave has us all reaching for something cool to quench our thirst. But, a new study warns, beware sipping from the garden hose, which can develop high levels of toxic chemicals in hot weather.
Researchers for Healthy Stuff at the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, found that high amounts of lead, phthalates and the toxic chemical BPA were present in the water of a new hose after leaving it outside in the sun for just a few days.
All the 90 hoses tested exceeded limits set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
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Dangerous: Beware sipping from the garden hose in hot weather, as the heat can cause it to develop high levels of toxic chemicals
The organisation explained that such chemicals have been linked to birth defects, impaired learning,
liver toxicity, premature births and early puberty in laboratory
Water from one hose was found to have a lead content level that is 18 times higher than the federal drinking water standard.
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR HOSEPIPE WATER
Read the labels: Avoid hoses with a California Prop 65 warning that
says 'this product contains a chemical known to the State of California
to cause cancer and birth defects and other reproductive harm'. Buy
hoses that are 'drinking water safe' and 'lead-free'.Let it run: Always let your hose run for a few seconds before using,
since the water that’s been sitting in the hose will have the highest
levels of chemicals.Avoid the sun: Store your hose in the shade. The heat from the sun
can increase the leaching of chemicals from the PVC into the water.Don't drink water from a hose: Unless you know for sure that your
hose is drinking water safe, don’t drink from it. Even low levels of
lead may cause health problems.Buy a PVC-free hose: Polyurethane or natural rubber hoses are better
Two water hoses contained a flame retardant, and all of the garden hoses sampled for phthalates contained phthalate
plasticizers which are currently banned in children’s products.
Research Director at the Ecology Center, explained: 'Even if you are an organic gardener, doing everything you can to avoid
pesticides and fertilizers, you still may be introducing hazardous
substances into your soil by using these products.
'The good news is that
healthier choices are out there. Polyurethane or natural rubber water
hoses, and non-PVC tools and work gloves, are all better choices.'
The results were part of a larger study of toxic chemicals in gardening products.
179 common items, including gloves, kneeling pads and garden tools, as well as hoses, were screened, with two-thirds found to contain chemical levels of 'high concern'.
'Gardening products, including water hoses, are completely unregulated
and often fail to meet drinking water standards that apply to other
products, yet again demonstrating the complete failure of our federal
chemicals regulatory system,' Mr Gearhart continued.
'Our children will never be
safe until we reform our laws to ensure products are safe before they
arrive on store shelves.'