If you find yourself drinking out of the garden hose every once in a while, you might wonder how safe the water passing through the hose is. Do garden hoses contain latex or lead that might be toxic? We did some thorough research on this matter, and here's what we found out.
Studies have shown that a standard garden hose contains lead, particularly flexible plastic hose and metal fittings. Hoses made with PVC (vinyl) material have more lead content compared to those made of rubber and polyurethane.
Not all garden hoses contain latex. One type that does contain latex is the expandable garden hoses. This variety has an inner layer made of stretchable layered latex and is covered by a synthetic fabric.
Garden hoses that contain latex and lead are not safe to use for drinking water. To ensure your garden hose is free of latex and lead, look for a product that's labeled "drinking water safe."
Read on below, and we'll explain more about what garden hoses are made of and how to choose a safer garden hose for your family.
What Are Garden Hoses Made Out Of?
If you use a hose to bring water from your faucet to where you need it, you're probably wondering how the hose affects the quality of the water.
It's a legitimate concern. When you're not sure what kind of material your hose is made of, it's easy to start worrying that the water coming out of your faucet might not be safe for human consumption.
A standard garden hose that many homeowners purchase is generally made out of synthetic rubber and soft plastics. The components and materials can vary depending on the application, pressure rating, length, size, and chemical compatibility.
Types Of Garden Hose
There are different types of garden hoses based on material and uses:
- Vinyl - least expensive, not very flexible or bendable, usually reinforced with nylon mesh, best for sprinklers
- Polyurethane - lightweight, smaller diameter, not very flexible
- Rubber - heavy-duty construction grade, durable, easy to coil, won't crease
- Metal - more expensive, durable, lightweight, doesn't kink, good for sprinklers
- Polymer - lightweight, coils easily, safe for drinking water
- Expandable - rubber tube covered by a stretchable fabric, lightweight, easy storage
How can you tell what a garden hose is made of? One way is to look at product descriptions before purchasing them. It usually indicates the material used for the hose. For instance, this classic hybrid hose below is made out of hybrid polymer. It has an inner and outer layer of hybrid polymer material and a middle layer of woven material.
When you browse garden hoses online, you will often see the term "hybrid" in the materials section of the product description.
What do terms like "hybrid polymer" or "hybrid hose" mean? This means it is made of chemically blended materials such as rubber, polyurethane, PVC, and other synthetic material to make it more durable and flexible.
With all these talks of chemicals and synthetics, you may start wondering how safe or unsafe your garden hose is. Two of the most controversial and harmful chemicals that are linked to garden hoses are lead and latex. Are these chemicals in your garden hose? Are they really toxic? Let's break it down below.
Does A Garden Hose Contain Latex?
Latex is one of the more affordable rubber materials in the world, and many of the things you find in your home are actually made of latex.
These include balloons, rubber bands, rubber toys, sports equipment, rubber mats, rubber gloves, and erasers. You can also find items made from latex in medical facilities, including medical gloves and catheters.
Do garden hoses contain latex? Not all of them. One specific garden hose that surely contains latex is the expandable garden hose. If you haven't seen one, check out the product below.
An expandable garden hose is made of a stretchable layered latex hose inside and a tough polyester fabric outer layer. As water is pumped through the hose, pressure builds up inside the tube, causing it to expand in length. Once the pressure has been released from the tube, it shrinks and returns to its original form.
Do Garden Hoses Still Contain Lead?
In 2016, a study conducted by the Ecology Center revealed that a standard garden hose contains lead, a chemical element that is used in various products such as paint and gasoline. Is lead harmful to humans?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, high exposure to lead can lead to poisoning causing anemia, kidney damage, brain damage, and many other complications. Extremely high exposure to lead can cause death.
Complications can also happen with slow and prolonged exposure to lead. Symptoms may start to manifest as forgetfulness, depression, nausea, irritability, and abdominal pain.
Children and pregnant women are also more susceptible to the effects of lead poisoning because their fragile health and bodies tend to absorb more lead upon exposure.
Hose fittings that are made of brass typically contain lead because when combined, it makes the brass more pliable for machine operations.
But how about other brass components such as plumbing fixtures? The difference is that garden hoses are not required to follow the lead laws and regulations that govern plumbing fixtures.
If you have a yellow or green garden hose, chances are, there's lead content in there too. Lead is sometimes used as a pigment, particularly the green and yellow colors, in the tubes.
Should You Drink Water From A Garden Hose?
Drinking water from a garden hose is unsafe, especially if you do it too often. According to Dr. Thomas Miller of the University of Utah Healthcare, it is possible to ingest small amounts of lead when drinking from a garden hose.
This means it's not safe to drink for both humans and animals. You should also think twice about using it to water your vegetable and fruit garden.
According to another source, drinking water from the hose could expose you not only to lead but also to bacteria, mold, bromine, phthalates, organotin, and BPA (bisphenol A).
These chemicals are used mainly in garden hoses to help bind and stabilize the materials. Prolonged exposure to these chemicals can damage organs such as the kidneys and liver.
What Kind Of Hose Is Safe For Drinking Water?
Not all hoses are safe for drinking water. However, there are a few things you can do to make sure the hose you've got is safe for drinking.
First, make sure you purchase one that has the label "drinking water safe." These days, you can easily find garden hoses with the labels "phthalate-free," "BPA-free," "family safe," or "lead-free."
Next, avoid hoses made from PVC because it contains more harmful chemicals compared to other materials such as polyurethane or rubber. Buy one that's high quality even if it costs a little more, both for safety and durability.
Also, check your local regulations. Many municipalities require that all hoses used for drinking water supply be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
If you live in an area with this requirement, make sure your hose has been approved by the FDA before using it as a source of drinking water.
Choose a hose with nylon fittings instead of brass because it doesn't have lead and is therefore safer to use. You can also choose one with a transparent material and anti-UV coating to prevent the sun from damaging it.
Finally, make sure there aren't any leaks anywhere along the length of your hose or where it connects to other fixtures such as faucets or spigots. Leaks can contaminate your drinking water supply with bacteria and other microorganisms that could make you sick if ingested over time.
After reading this article, did you check the safety of your garden hose? Do consider getting a new one if it starts to show signs of wear and tear. Most garden hoses need replacement after a few years of use, so if you're thinking about getting a new one, we hope you consider our safety reminders above.
To reiterate, choose one that has the "drinking water safe" label or any indication that it's nontoxic, even if you don't intend to drink from it. This is to lessen exposure to chemicals and to make the water safe not just for your family but for your beloved pets and plants as well.
For more information on garden safety, check out our other articles below.