Taking a generous sip from your hose as you water your plants can seem like a good idea, but it might actually be a health hazard. If the water comes from the well, there is a good chance it is contaminated with pathogens and other contaminants. But even if it’s from the municipal line, the water could still be contaminated with lead and other contaminants.
You can use a hose water filtration system to eliminate chlorine, lead, pathogens, and other harmful contaminants from the water to make it more suitable for drinking, watering plants, and washing cars, but these filters are not a very practical solution. At best, water hose filters will help improve the taste of the water by reducing chlorine levels, but you would need a full, multi-purpose filtering system to remove all contaminants.
Read on to learn more about the potential hazard of hose water and how to handle them!
How clean is hose water?
Hose water may not be clean for a number of reasons.
First, hoses aren’t manufactured to deliver safe drinking water, as with home plumbing. There is a very good chance hose water is contaminated with lead, bromine, phthalates, bisphenol A, and the other usual water contaminants like pathogens, fluoride, and chlorine.
In fact, a study by the Ecology Center has found the presence of many hazardous substances (most of which are now banned in children’s products because of their toxicity) in hose water.
According to the study, the chemicals found in hose water can be linked to premature births, liver toxicity, birth defects, impaired learning, and early puberty, among many other health complications. Suffice it to say that drinking unfiltered hose water harms you and your pets, so you may want to install a hose water filtration system.
Why is hose water so good?
If your hose water comes from a nearby well, it will have minerals, and it will also be nice and cool. That will make hose water taste great. Sometimes, the hose water can also have a “plastic” taste which comes from the material used to make the hose.
Even though some people find this to be a desirable taste, it is actually an indicator of contamination by a number of chemicals which can be a health hazard. A good hose shouldn’t impart any chemicals into the water, and it shouldn’t alter the taste of water. If your hose makes water taste different, you may want to replace it.
But even if hose water tastes great, do not interpret that to mean the water is safe for drinking. If you taste the hose water using an inexpensive testing kit (Amazon link), you will most likely find lots of impurities in the water. To make the water safe for drinking, you will need to filter it with a hose filter.
Do hoses have lead?
A recent study found out that most of the PVC hoses on the market have lead in them which will ultimately contaminate the water. In addition to lead, PVC hoses also have antimony, phthalates, and bromine. The hose fittings are typically made from brass, an alloy with 8% lead. This far exceeds the standards for safe drinking water.
That said, it is possible to get non-lead hoses. For starters, buy a hose that is non-PVC. But more importantly, go for hoses that are made from FDA-approved materials. Also, check to ensure the fitting is nickel-plated and not brass-plated.
A lead-free hose is usually labeled “drink-safe” to indicate that there is no or very little chance of lead contamination.
Are garden hoses toxic?
In 2016, Ecology Center tested tens of hoses from Amazon, Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart, Meijer, and Walmart. They were assessing the hoses for the presence of bromine, antimony, arsenic, mercury, tin, cadmium, lead, bisphenol, and phthalates.
The study found that most of the hoses had at least two of the above toxic substances, meaning most garden hoses are toxic. But not all garden hoses are toxic. If you use a hose that has been made with FDA-approved materials, it will be non-toxic.
Can you get sick from drinking from a water hose?
For the most part, hose water is just the same as the water you get from your home faucets. But there is a slight difference that makes the two different in safety- the delivery system.
The plumbing in the house is made to deliver safe drinking water. Unless for cases of older houses, most modern plumbing is made of materials that will not contaminate your water with lead or any other heavy metals.
On the flip side, most garden hoses are made from PVC, which exposes the water to toxic substances. Phthalates and chemical BPA can easily leak from the PVC hose into water and drinking such water can expose you to lots of health complications. Some common ailments one can suffer from include premature births, early puberty, impaired learning, and various birth defects.
Can you get Legionnaires disease from a garden hose?
Studies have shown that garden hoses can generate aerosols when used. When these aerosols contain legionella bacteria and are inhaled, one can suffer from Legionnaires disease or Pontiac fever.
Hoses typically provide a conducive environment for the growth of legionella bacteria due to the elevated temperatures, water stagnation, and biofilm formation.
Does hose water have chlorine?
If you are connected to a public water sanitation system, your water will have chlorine.
Chlorine is usually added to the water because it effectively kills pathogens in the water. The quantities are, however, controlled to ensure it doesn’t get toxic. So, if you smell some chlorine in your hose water, it is fine and safe for consumption or for your plants and pets.
However, you still need to ensure there are no other contaminants in the hose water for it to be completely safe. You can avoid PVC hoses and use a good hose water filtration system.
Is it OK to water plants with chlorinated water?
In excessive amounts, chlorine can be toxic to plants. Any chlorinated water (e.g., water from your swimming pool) should not be used to water your plants.
Chlorine is usually added to municipal water to kill pathogens and make it safe for consumption. So, if you are using municipal water, it already has some chlorine content. However, the chlorine level in tap water is not only safe for humans and pets but is also safe for plants.
In fact, plants need chlorine for healthy growth and development, and so it is ok to use tap water for irrigation.
Can my dog drink hose water?
Animal experts strongly advise against pets drinking hose water because humans are advised against it – it could be contaminated with heavy metals, chemicals, and pathogens.
One of the common health complications for pets that drink hose water is aspiration pneumonia. As your pet inhales the water from the hose, it could easily get into his lungs, leading to aspiration pneumonia. But the pet is also exposed to pathogens and chemicals that could potentially make them sick.
How do you dechlorinate hose water?
If the chlorine quantiles in your water are too high, you may want to dechlorinate it. The safest and easiest way to do this would be to use a hose water filter (Amazon link). In addition to dechlorinating the water, the filter will also remove any other impurities that might have made the water unsafe for drinking or for irrigation.