A new study has found very high levels of lead, BPA, phthalates, and other toxic chemicals in new gardening hoses and gardening equipment.
Over 200 hoses, gloves, knee pads, and tools were tested for lead, cadmium, bromine (indicating brominated flame retardants), chlorine (indicating PVC), phthalates, and BPA.
These chemicals have been linked to birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity, premature babies, and early puberty, among other serious health problems.
“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. “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.”
Two thirds of the products tested had high levels of these dangerous chemicals. 30% of the products had higher levels of lead in them than meets the Consumer Product Safety Commission Standard (CPSC) for lead in children’s products, more than 100 ppm.
All of the gardening hoses contained four different phthalate plasticizers that are banned in children’s products.
Two of the hoses contained the toxic flame retardant 2,3,4,5-tetrabromo-bis (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (TBPH).
Water sampled from one of the hoses contained 18 times more lead than meets the federal drinking water standard.
BPA levels were 20 times higher than meets the currently considered ‘safe drinking level’.
The phthalate DEHP was four times over the federal drinking water limit.
The study authors recommend you can limit your exposure by only using hoses that are specified lead-free and drinking-water-safe. Let the hose run for a few seconds before using. Store it out of the sun. And don’t drink from it, as even low levels of lead cause health problems.
“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,” said Gearhart. “Our children will never be safe until we reform our laws to ensure products are safe before they arrive on store shelves.”