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Watering with Lead: What’s in your Water Hose?

When we think of water safety we often think about the water that comes out of our faucets, fridges, and showerheads. A less obvious water source is our garden hoses. While we may not be bathing, brushing our teeth, or drinking from the hose, the quality of our hose and the water that comes from it is important.

Lead is a neurotoxin that can be present in the brass fittings of the hose or in the hose pigmentation. The lead levels in hoses are often higher than those acceptable for drinking water. If you are using your hose to water edible crops in your garden, using a lead-free hose will ensure lead isn’t contaminating your food or the soil your food grows in. Plant tissues can take in lead and other contaminants in the soil and affect the quality of the produce. Lead contamination in soil is difficult to remedy. Soil with high levels of lead may need to be completely replaced.

Hoses that advertise being lead free can be harder to find and more expensive than alternative options, but ensuring that the water leaving your hose is uncontaminated will let your yard and plants thrive. When you are looking for a lead-free hose look for natural rubber alternatives instead of PVC or vinyl hoses, which can contain lead along with other harmful chemicals. You can also look for hoses advertised as drinking water safe; this will ensure that the hose does not contain unsafe levels of lead or plasticizers that can leach into water. Other ways to reduce chemical contamination in hose water is to keep your hoses in the shade so heat and sunlight don’t aid in plastic/chemical leaching and to run the water for a moment before applying it to your garden.

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