Brad Lancaster  @  ChelseaGreen

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Garden Hose Dangers and Recommendations

Posted on Tuesday, July 28th, 2009 at 4:47 pm by Brad Lancaster

© 2009 Brad Lancaster,

Many garden hoses leach lead and other chemicals into the water as it sits in the hose. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and brass fittings are often the culprits.

Yuck - the water tastes like lead!
Yuck - the water tastes like lead!

To reduce such risk, purchase, use, and/or drink only from hoses labeled safe for drinking water. Never buy any hose with such labeling as "WARNING: This product contains a chemical in the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm." Note that such warnings will typically be in very small print.

A May 2005 Consumer Reports article, "Dare you drink from a garden hose?" reports that hoses labeled safe for drinking leach minuscule concentrations of lead into water standing in the hose, while hoses not labeled drinking water safe leached up to 10 to 100 times allowable lead levels into water standing in the hose.

So, flush any hose before you drink from it by letting the water run a while before you gulp.

Suppliers of hoses labeled safe for drinking water include:

Gatorhyde Drinking Water Safe Garden Hose
Armadillo Hoses

Note that these are far better than most, but not perfect. Gatorhyde contains polyurethane, while Armadillo contains a less toxic PVC. Both polyurethane and PVC are banned materials in the Living Building Challenge Materials Red List (Prerequisite Five). The Living Building Challenge is an integrated green building guide that goes well beyond LEED.

Note for anyone using gravity to move water through a hose from a rainbarrel or rainwater tank - get 3/4-inch (best) or 5/8-inch (next best) interior diameter hose instead of 1/2-inch interior diameter. The larger the interior diameter, the less surface friction will reduce your low gravity-fed pressure.

Also make sure your rainbarrel or cistern faucet does not constrict its interior diameter to less than 3/4 of an inch. Look inside the valve. Unfortunately, most readily available valves reduce interior diameter to 1/4 of an inch, greatly reducing your gravity-fed pressure.


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