Why you should think twice about drinking from a garden hose

Getting a cool drink of water from the garden hose on a hot summer’s day is a childhood memory for many.

But it might not be as safe as you think.

“Back in the day I used to – had no worries.  We used to play all the time.  If it got hot, just go grab a hose it wasn’t a big deal, but, like I said, you never know what’s in the hoses now,” said mother Raylene Brooks, “Things have changed over the years.  I’m worried about contaminants…I wouldn’t allow my children now to drink from hoses.”

The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment warns drinking from a garden hose is an unnecessary risk.

“Many hoses are made of a plastic called poly vinyl chloride, PVC for short, and PVC has lead in it, so if water’s sitting in the hose and you drink it you could be getting some leads and that could be dangerous,” Gideon Forman, the association’s executive director said.

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High levels of lead intake have been linked with lower IQ in children, kidney failure and liver failure.

“One of things find in plastic family chemicals called phalates that’s what makes hose soft so you can bend it easily and phalates  are connected with hormone disruption, birth defects and there’s some connection with cancer,” Forman said. “Bisphenol A is again a hormone disruptor and other concerns with cancer as well.”

Health Canada states simply “the purpose of garden hoses does not include providing potable water for drinking.”

“Water left standing in a garden hose should never be drunk.  Apart from potential exposure to chemicals leaching out of the hose itself, there is potential for standing water in hoses to contain dirt, insects, or other material which should not be directly ingested,” the health agency said.

Health Canada goes on to say that if someone does want to use a garden hose for drinking, it should be “thoroughly flushed” with cold running water to remove anything that may have built up when it was turned off.

Wayne Cochrane, who works at Home Hardware in East York, said many customers are looking for “greener” alternatives. There are brands of hoses that claim to be “lead free” or “drinking water safe.”

“They’re trying to find something safe for chidlren, good for environment and good for their pets,”Cochrane said.


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