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Study finds toxic substances in garden tools

By Mary Beth Breckenridge Published: May 3, 2012

Mom was right when she warned you not to drink from the garden hose. 

A study by the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., recently found high amounts of lead, phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA) in the water from a garden hose left in the sun for a few days.

The results of the study were released today at

The center also found hazardous substances in other garden products, including garden gloves, kneeling pads and garden tools. 

"Even if you are an organic gardener, doing everything you can to avoid pesticides and fertilizers, you still may be introducing hazardous sutstances into your soil by using these products," Jeff Gearhart, the center's research director, said in a news release.

Water from one hose contained 18 times the federal drinking water standard for lead and 20 times the BPA that the National Science Foundation considers safe.

The center's suggestions for consumers include:

  • Buying lead-free hoses.
  • Testing your soil for metals such as lead.
  • Avoiding products containing PVC.
  • Storing hoses in the shade.
  • Always letting the hose run a few seconds before using.
  • Washing your hands after handling a hose to avoid transferring lead to your hands and possibly your mouth.



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