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Panic Item Of The Week: Your Garden Hose Could Harm Your Children!

By Marcus Gilmer in Miscellaneous on May 20, 2008 5:17PM

2008_05_hose.jpgAlthough it may not feel like it, at some point summer will (allegedly) kick in and children will once again take up ye olde pastimes like stickball, frolicking in sprinklers, and drinking from garden hoses. Pesky science, however, has once again reared its ugly head to mar said pastimes. Parents are becoming alarmed by labels on garden hoses warning of the risk of lead leaching into the hose water, making it unsafe for those who drink water straight from the hose.

A 2003 Consumer Reports investigation of several different brands of hoses revealed lead levels ranging from 10 to 100 times the EPA's allowable levels. While some brands are labeled as safe and others do carry warning labels, there are many brands that still don't carry a label one way or the other. As a result of the investigation, in 2004 the Center for Environmental Health brought a lawsuit in California against hose manufacturers, which led to an agreement by the manufacturers to produce hoses that met the standards set by California’s Prop 65, with a 2007 deadline.

So there's concern over a five-year-old report and a four-year-old lawsuit that resulted in better standards that were to go in place a year ago. Still, you'd best check the label just in case, especially if your hose is a few years old. According to that Consumer Reports investigation, a study that had appeared in The New England Journal of Medicine suggested "lead levels in the blood even lower than the current definition of toxicity may adversely affect a child’s IQ." We, however, drank out of hoses all the time as kids and turned out just fine. Right?