It’s Almost Summer, Are Your Garden Hose and Gloves Safe?
You may be aware of the hazards associated with use of many garden chemicals and pesticides, but there may be dangers lurking in your garden supplies as well. As you hook up your garden hose, don your gardening gloves, and take the tools out of the shed, you should be aware they can pose safety concerns.
Don’t drink out of your garden hose
It’s a hot summer day, you’re thirsty, and the garden hose is nearby, so what’s the harm in taking a drink? According to a new study conducted by HealthyStuff.org, which screened 90 garden hoses, 53 garden gloves, 23 garden tools, and 13 kneeling pads, the water coming out of that hose could be contaminated with a variety of chemicals.
But garden hoses were not the only garden products that tested positive for enough chemicals to be of concern. In fact, 126 of 179 (70.4%) of the products tested ranked “high concern,” which means high levels of one or more harmful chemicals were detected. Those chemicals included lead, phthalates, cadmium, BPA (Bisphenol-A), flame retardants, and antimony.
Let’s return to the garden hoses for a moment. Here’s what the investigators found:
- One-third of the hoses tested contained higher levels of lead than acceptable by the federal Safe Drinking Water Standard.
- 29% of brass hose fittings contained more than 2,500 ppm lead, and the Safe Drinking Water Act limits the amount of lead in brass in residential water fixtures to 2,500 ppm. However, garden hoses are not regulated by this Act.
- 17% of plastic hose material contained more than 100 ppm (parts per million) lead
- Water samples tested from a representative hose contained lead, phthalates, and BPA. The phthalates were four times higher than the federal drinking water standards while BPA levels were 20 times higher.
- Among all the products tested, 18% contained antimony, which is classified as a carcinogen in California and listed as a possible human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the European Union. Three percent of the products contained high levels of cadmium,
- More than half (56%) of the products were made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride) plastics, which often contain phthalates. Research shows phthalates have hormone-disrupting properties, even at low exposure. Exposure to phthalates has been associated with birth defects, behavior problems, ADHD symptoms, and more.
How safe are your garden gloves?
The survey also presented the findings of tests conducted on selected gardening gloves. Significant levels of three or four of the following phthalates were found in the brands selected: DEHP, DBP, DEP, DIBP. DBP (di-n-butyl phthalate) and DEP (diethyl phthalate) are also found in many personal care products, such as shampoos and hand lotions. DEHP (di-(2-ethylhexyl phthalate) is used in PVC plastics.
The gardening and work gloves tested in the study are only representative of the many brands on the market. They included Duraworx Multi-purpose PVC, Garden Collection Jersey Dotted, Green Jersey Canvas, High Performance Work Gloves, and PS Multi-Purpose non-slip canvas.
How to have a safe summer
Here are some tips on how to have a safe summer while using your garden hose and other garden products.
- Use a lead-free, PVC-free garden hose. Look for rubber or polyurethane hoses. They are often white with a blue stripe and available at recreational vehicle (RV) and marine stores. A list of PVC-free hoses is available on the HealthyStuff website.
- Read labels. Do not buy hoses that carry a warning saying “this product contains a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects and other reproductive harm.”
- Do not drink out of your garden hose. Unless you are certain your garden hose is safe, no one should drink water from the hose, including your pets.
- Wash your hands. After handling any garden hose, tools, or gloves, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water (and not from the hose!).
- Wear safe gardening gloves. Look for gloves that are toxin-free, such as those made of organic cotton.
As you prepare for summer, be sure to avoid dangerous toxins in your backyard and garden. Choose a toxin-free garden hose, garden gloves, and other products to keep you and your family safe this summer.
Updated August 15, 2014