Study finds toxic chemicals in garden hoses
For the second year in a row, testing by researchers at the Ecology Center revealed high levels of hazardous chemicals, many of which have been banned in children’s products, in garden hoses. Phthalates and the toxic chemical BPA were all found in the water of a new hose after sitting outside in the sun for just a few days.
The study is a follow-up to a 2012 study that tested 90 garden water hoses. This year, 21 garden hoses were tested for lead, cadmium, bromine (associated with brominated flame retardants), chlorine (indicating the presence of polyvinyl chloride, or PVC), phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA). These chemicals have been linked to birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity, premature births and early puberty in laboratory animals, among other serious health problems.
Results were released earlier this month at www.HealthyStuff.org.
“Drinking water from a hose is one of the pleasures of summer. You shouldn’t need to worry that the water contains chemicals of concern from your garden hose,” according to Jeff Gearhart, research director at the Ecology Center.
“While the good news is that consumer pressure has resulted in lower levels of lead in hoses this year, we are still finding unnecessary toxic hazards in garden hoses," he said. "And it’s encouraging that healthier choices are out there. Polyurethane or natural rubber water hoses are a great improvement over PVC and are better choices.”
Highlights of the findings:
What was found in the water?
Phthalates are a group of industrial chemicals that add flexibility and resilience to many consumer products. Consumer products containing phthalates can result in human exposure through direct contact and use, indirectly through leaching into other products, or general environmental contamination. Humans are exposed through ingestion, inhalation, and dermal exposure during their whole lifetime.
BPA is used as an antioxidant in polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastics, as an inhibitor of end polymerization in PVC, and as co-stabilizers for certain PVC plasticizers. This is not the first time BPA has been found to leach from PVC plastic products. A study by scientists in Japan found BPA leaches from PVC pipes into water, and they concluded “PVC hose might be a significant source of environmental BPA”. Other studies have documented BPA in PVC gloves.
What can you do?
“No parent should have to worry whether their garden hose is leaching hormone disrupting chemicals into the water their children or pets drink from,” said Mike Schade, Markets Campaign Coordinator with the Center for Health, Environment & Justice. “We now know vinyl garden hoses may leach toxic phthalates and BPA into water. It’s time for retailers like Home Depot and Wal-Mart to safeguard our children’s health and phase out the use of these poison plastic vinyl hoses.”
For more details on what the Ecology Center researchers found, and what you can do to avoid toxic chemicals this gardening season, visit www.HealthyStuff.org.
Since 2007 researchers at the Ecology Center have performed over 22,000 tests for toxic chemicals on over 7,500 consumer products, including pet products, vehicles, women's handbags, jewelry, back-to-school products, children's toys, building products and children's car seats. All of this information can be found at www.HealthyStuff.org.
EcoLink — May 2013 Ecolink
An online publication of the Ecology Center
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