Are you putting lead on your garden?
In the past couple of years there have been a lot of product scares about lead in various products imported from China. But one product that normally contains lead that no one ever thinks about is garden hoses. Yes, for the most part the majority of garden hoses contain lead. The reason is that lead is used during the manufacturing process as a stabilizer for the PVC used to make the hose. This means, that over time, the lead will leech out of the hose and into the water passing through it. This lead laced water then goes into your lawn, garden, kids wading pool and/or is drunk by you, your kids and pets.
The loophole in consumer product laws that allow lead in garden hoses is that they are for outdoor use and are not for potable water. They also contain warning labels on the packaging that say not to drink water from the hose. The thing is who reads those warning labels, which are in tiny print on the back of the packaging and the warnings do no good after the packaging has been thrown away. Furthermore, every kid drinks water from a garden hose on a hot summer day, its just what kids do and lead is especially harmful to children.
Supposedly, plants don't take up lead so supposedly lead in garden hoses is not a concern in a garden from the standpoint of contaminating vegetables with lead, I don't know if this is true or not. Personally speaking, however, I don't like the idea of adding lead to my garden even if plants don't take it up. There is already enough lead in most soil because of the decades that lead was added to gasoline and then spewed into the atmosphere as auto exhaust.
Until consumer safety laws are changed, the only way to make sure your garden hoses do not contain lead is for their packaging to be labeled as drinking water safe and that the hose complies with RoHS standards restricting lead. If you have children around the home, you should throw away all of your existing hoses and buy new hoses that are lead free. My local Home Depot and Lowes do sell short 25' boat and camper hoses that are lead free, but I had to go to Amazon.com for the 75' long "family safe" hose I purchased for $39.95 with free shipping.
In both cases the hoses were manufactured by a company called Apex. If you go to your local home improvement store, the boat and camper hose is white with a blue stripe and labeled as "Boat & Camper NeverKink Self-Straightening Hose". The 75' hose I bought from Amazon.com yellow green and is labeled as " Eco-Smart & Family Safe Aqua-Pure NeverKink". The hoses are a little lighter and slightly smaller in diameter than standard garden hoses. The boat and camper hose seems to be lighter weight and smaller in diameter than the garden hose, but this makes sense as presumably one would want to store it in a small space. One nice thing about the 75' garden hose is that it has a permanent blue collar around female end of the hose that says "eco-smart family safe" so that years from now you will easily be able to figure out which of your hoses is the lead free hose if you have several different ones.
One really frustrating thing has been that I have been unable to find a lead-free RoHS compliant soaker hose for my garden. Granted all of the soaker hoses I have found are made out of 50%-60% recycled rubber, but again I don't like the idea of adding lead to my garden. If you know where I can find a lead free soaker hose, please let me know.