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If you keep water outside for your dog to drink, let your dog play in the water sprinkler, or have a kiddie pool for your dog, then you might want to have a look at this new study released by the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan and published on Healthy Stuff.org. The portion of the study pertaining to garden hoses contains a number of findings which should be alarming to pet owners. The primary concerns are the findings of concentrations of phthalates and lead which exceed content standards of the Safe Water Drinking Act (SWDA). Garden hoses are not regulated by SWDA.
You may be familiar with the group of chemicals known as phthalates due to a number of articles in major pet publications and blogs warning of the dangers of phthalates in soft plastic toys, vinyl dog beds, and plastic food and water dishes. After a recent review of several such articles, however, I was surprised to find that not one mentioned the high concentration of phthalates in the common garden hose. In the Ecology Center study, 100% of the garden hoses sampled for phthalates contained four phthalate plasticizers currently banned in children’s products. Bear in mind as you read about the hazards of phthalates detailed in the study that our knowledge of these effects comes primarily from studies in animals, some of which were conducted in Beagles, and are therefore probably even more relevant for the animal population.
Lead was found in the Ecology Center study to exceed 100 parts per million (ppm) in 50% of the garden hoses tested. This lead content is a source for potential lead poisoning in dogs, especially if they drink garden hose water every day. Lead is found in garden hoses in both the fittings (primarily brass) and the plastic hose material, and you will probably not find a warning on the label that it is not safe to drink from the hose unless you are ordering a garden hose online or purchasing one in the state of California. Companies which sell their products in California are subject to Proposition 65, which requires businesses to notify Californians about significant amounts of chemicals in the products they purchase. Some companies only include warnings on the labels of garden hoses that are specifically destined for shipment to California, as this is the only state in which it is required. This was verified to me by several customer service representatives I spoke with via telephone.
The Ecology Center makes a number of recommendations to consumers based on the findings of their study, including sparing pets from lead poisoning by filling pools and water bowls with a lead free hose. If you have read enough already to desire to run right out and purchase one however, hold on just a minute. More than likely, the only lead free hose you will find available at a store in your immediate area will be a 25 ft., 1/2 inch diameter white hose with blue stripes that is labelled for RV and marine use. I have the particular hose pictured in the preceding link, and it is also labelled as meeting California toy standards for phthalate content. I found the 25 ft. hoses at both Lowe’s and Home Depot, and they are also commonly available at boating and camping stores. If you need a larger diameter, longer hose for kennel or farm animal use, or wish to water the yard without contaminating your soil with lead, then you will probably have to order online. Note that once the hose is used with a spray nozzle that it can no longer be considered a “drinking water safe” hose. Thus far I have not been able to locate a lead free spray nozzle, and therefore no longer use a nozzle as pictured in the photos accompanying this post. If anyone knows who manufactures one, please let me know.
Once your lead free hose contacts a spray nozzle, it is no longer drinking water safe.
An additional danger to dogs from garden hoses is burns. Although a water hose should not be left outside in the sun because this can increase the leaching of chemicals into the water, many people do leave their hoses outside. With the current high temperatures, if a dog runs through the water before the hose has run off, this can result in a major burn. The symptoms of the burn may not appear until several days later. In a field study conducted by pathologists in Texas, two water hoses left outside for two hours in temperatures of 89 to 94 F contained water with a temperature of 120 F. For more information on garden hose thermal scald injury, please see Have You Heard: The danger of the garden hose from dvm360.com.
Photos by Bosun Dawg ©2011-2012 All Rights Reserved
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