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Organic gardening means no toxic products are used to grow your plants. You've replaced things like pesticides and chemical fertilizers with nontoxic and natural products. But there may be one toxic product you've overlooked.
Are you an organic gardener? If so, you’ve learned how to control pests without using toxic pesticides. You prepare your soil with organic nutrients. But what about your garden hose?
The toxins found in your average, commonly used garden hose can undo your hard work by contaminating your soil and your organically grown veggies with metals and plastic chemicals. In this article I cover the worst and the best garden hose options to protect your health from these dangerous chemicals.
Since 2011, The Ecology Center in Ann Arbor, MI has tested over 200 garden hoses for toxic chemicals. The hoses were tested for:
Using the results of this research, I’ve compiled a list from the most toxic types of hoses to the least toxic types.
Polyvinyl is a type of plastic made with vinyl chloride (a known carcinogen). It is a brittle plastic so chemicals called phthalates are added to make the plastic pliable. BPA and recycled electronic e-waste are also used to make polyvinyl.
The Ecology Center researchers found that PVC hoses frequently contained elevated lead, antimony, phthalates and bromine. Non-PVC hoses did not contain these contaminants.
Water Left in PVC Hoses
The Ecology Center also tested water left in PVC hoses for 24-48 hours for the presence of plastic chemicals. Phthalates and BPA were found in the water samples.
This means that these toxins easily leach from PVC hoses into your water. This isn’t surprising because BPA and phthalates have been found to leach from many types of plastic containers and cans.
Hoses labeled “Drinking Water Safe” had significantly fewer toxic chemicals and in much lower amounts, particularly lead, antimony, and bromine.
In its testing the Ecology Center found hoses made with polyurethane and rubber consistently had very low toxin levels.
So read labels carefully when you buy a garden hose. And, definitely choose a non-PVC hose. Polyurethane hoses usually are labeled as such, while PVC hoses often have no material specified. And no matter which type of hose you use, don't use water that has been left sitting in it.