Hazardous Chemicals found in Gardening Water Hoses
May 7, 2013
Hoses Can Leach Phthalates and BPA into Water, Study Finds
Retailers Called on to Stop Selling Products
High levels of hazardous chemicals, many of which have been banned in children’s products, were found in garden hoses for the second year in row. Phthalates and the toxic chemical BPA were all found in the water of a new hose after sitting outside in the sun for just a few days, according to researchers at the Ann Arbor-based Ecology Center, which has just completed a study of toxic chemicals in garden hoses.
The study is a follow-up to a 2012 study that tested 90 garden water hoses. This year, 21 garden hoses were tested for lead, cadmium, bromine (associated with brominated flame retardants); chlorine (indicating the presence of polyvinyl chloride, or PVC); phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA). These chemicals have been linked to birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity, premature births and early puberty in laboratory animals, among other serious health problems. Results were released today at www.HealthyStuff.org.
Highlights of Findings
21 new garden hoses were purchased from Lowes, Home Depot, Walmart, Target and Kmart. One-third (8 of 21) of the garden hoses tested contained high levels of one or more chemicals of concern. These hoses are widely available and top selling brands.
Of the 21 garden hoses tested, 67% (14 of 21) were polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and 4.5% contained brominated flame retardants.
4 hoses were tested for phthalate content. Total phthalate content in those hoses ranged from 11 to 18% by weight. Phthalates are not chemically bound to the material and can be released to the air and water.
100% of the PVC hoses tested for phthalates contained one or more of the phthalates which have been banned by CPSC in children’s products.
Hazardous metals were also found in hoses; including organic tin stabilizers (29%); and antimony (52%);
Overall the level of lead in garden hoses declined between 2012 and 2013. The percentage of hoses with greater then 100 ppm lead declined from 50% in 2012 to 14% in 2013.
What Was Found in the Water
Water was sampled from one hose after it was left in the sun for two days
BPA levels of 0.34 – 0.91 ppm were found in the hose water. This level is 3 to 9 - times higher than the 0.100 ppm safe drinking water level used by NSF to verify that consumers are not being exposed to levels of a chemical that exceed regulated levels.
The phthalate DEHP was found at 0.017 – 0.011 ppm in the hose water. This level is 2-times higher than federal drinking water standards. EPA and FDA regulate DEHP in water from the tap at 0.006 mg/l (ppm).
Clearing the shelves: Join us in asking retailers to mind the store!
April 11, 2013
We were thrilled when the Safe Chemicals Act was introduced in Congress earlier this week. The proposed legislation would restrict the usage of hazardous chemicals and hold chemical companies responsible for ensuring the safety of new chemicals.
Now, we are proud to announce that, as reported inUSA Today, we are part of a coalition of groups that launched a campaign this week asking major retailers to phase out potentially toxic chemicals from their shelves (we're calling it the "Mind the Store" campaign). You can join us by taking action here.
We are frustrated with the EPA’s current lack of power to collect data and regulate toxics. To help retailers Mind the Store, the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition has created a list of priority chemicals that we're urging them to phase out. The list focuses on chemicals widely used in consumer products, with strong evidence of their toxicity, and an emphasis on chemicals that have the potential to disrupt the health of our families - known carcinogens, developmental and reproductive toxicants and endocrine disruptors.
The case control study, involving 1005 women with breast cancer and 1147 without the disease, revealed that women who worked in jobs classified as highly exposed for 10 years increased their breast cancer risk by 42%.
Dr. James Brophy and Dr. Margaret Keith, lead researchers for the study, both work in the OEHRG at Stirling as well as the University of Windsor in Ontario.
"Breast cancer incidence rose throughout the developed world in the second half of the twentieth century as women entered industrial workplaces and many new and untested chemicals were being introduced,” said Dr. Keith. “Diverse and concentrated exposures to carcinogens and hormone disrupting chemicals in some workplaces can put workers at an increased risk for developing cancer."
Amoung the occupation with the highest risk were plastic manufacturing. The risk of developing breast cancer doubles for women working in the Canadian car industry's plastics manufacturing sector; and among those who were premenopausal, the risk was almost five times as great. Many plastics have been found to release estrogenic and carcinogenic chemicals and cumulative exposures to mixtures of these chemicals are a significant concern.
"Consumers are exposed daily to the same toxic soup of chemicals that workers are, and we are greatly concerned that government standards are not enough to protect us from carcinogens and endocrine disrupting chemicals in plastics and vehicles," said Jeff Gearhart, lead researcher at HealthyStuff.org.
"The study also points to the need to re-evaluate occupational and environmental exposure standards, keeping in mind that there may be no determinable safe levels to cancer-causing or hormone-disrupting chemicals," said Dr. Keith.
iPhone 5 Ranks Higher than Galaxy S III in New Study on Toxic Chemicals in Mobile Phones
October 3, 2012
For the first time the Ann Arbor-based Ecology Center teamed up with technology
gurus at ifixit.com to research toxic chemicals in 36 different cell phones,
including the recently released iPhone 5 and Samsung’s Galaxy S III. The results
were released today at www.HealthyStuff.org and
The Motorola Citrus ranked the least toxic phone followed by the iPhone 4 S and the LG Remarq. The new iPhone 5 ranked 5th, versus its primary competitor, Samsung Galaxy S III, which ranked 9th. The most toxic phone tested was the iPhone 2G. The full list of rankings can be found at HealthyStuff.org.
Every phone sampled in this study contained at least one of following hazardous
chemicals: lead, bromine, chlorine, mercury and cadmium. These hazardous substances
can pollute throughout a product’s life cycle, including when the minerals
are extracted; when they are processed; during phone manufacturing; and at
the end of the phone’s useful life. Emissions during disposal and recycling
of phones as electronic waste, or “e-waste,” are particularly problematic.
The mining of some tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold used in mobile phones
has been linked to conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
“Even the best phones from our study are still loaded with chemical
Jeff Gearhart, research director at the Ecology Center and founder of HealthyStuff.org.
“These chemicals, which are linked to birth defects, impaired learning and
other serious health problems, have been found in soils at levels 10 to 100
times higher than background levels at e-waste recycling sites in China. We
need better federal regulation of these chemicals, and we need to create incentives
for the design of greener consumer electronics.”
A 2004 study found that three-quarters of all cell phones leach lead at levels that would qualify them as hazardous waste. While tracking e-waste is difficult, it is estimated that 50-80% is exported to countries such as China, India, Pakistan, Vietnam and the Phillipines, where there is a labor-intensive, informal recycling infrastrucure that often lacks environmental and human health safeguards.
Suggested mobile phone recyclers: Go to e-stewards to find a responsible recycler. The companies below have signed the e-stewards pledge to not export e-waste to developing countries:
Capstone Wireless – Use their website to request a free UPS shipping label. They have a buy back program, so you may get money back for your old phone.
Call2Recycle – The Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corp also accepts old cell phones for free recycling. They have drop off sites in many cities (usually in stores). Use their location finder to enter your zip code to find the closest.
NOTICE: HealthyStuff.org ratings do not provide a measure of health risk or chemical exposure associated with any individual product, or any individual element or related chemical. HealthyStuff.org ratings provide only a relative measure of high, medium, and low concentrations of several hazardous chemicals or chemical elements in an individual product in comparison to criteria established in the site methodology.