Garden hoses, gloves, and even shovels have been found to contain toxic chemicals including lead, phthalates, and bisphenol A or BPA, research from the environmental group HealthyStuff.org has found. Families who spend time in the garden should take note, as these chemicals have been linked to birth defects and hormonal changes after prolonged exposure.
Thirty percent of the 179 garden products tested contained more than 100 parts per million of lead, which is Consumer Product Safety Commission Standard (CPSC) for lead in children' products. Water sitting outside in a new garden hose for a couple of days was measured with 18 times the allowable lead level.
"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," said Jeff Gearhart, Research Director at the Ecology Center in a press release for HealthyStuff.org. "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 group urges parents to take the following steps to have a safer garden:
- 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 choices.
Image: Garden hose, via Shutterstock.