Pb (Lead) in garden

Asked February 21, 2020, 3:08 PM EST

Hello, While ago I learned one should never drink water off of garden hose because of excess Lead (Pb) leaching from hose and connection material into the water. From what I know garden hose is used in almost all home gardens, small farms (soil based or Hydroponics), backyard chicken (egg and meat production) and even small fish production. I learned that vegetables may not absorber lead but doesn't this lead accumulate in the soil and plants start absorbing it? Doesn't the lead in water absorbed by animals (chicken/fish) and ultimately go in our body? I do grow vegetables and have chickens and fish. Please Advise.

Montgomery County Maryland

1 Response

Hi,
You are correct that one should not drink water from garden hoses that contain lead in their vinyl hose layers and metal fittings. Some of the lead can leach into the hose water. Please read this Ecology Center study on the subject:

https://www.ecocenter.org/healthy-stuff/reports/garden-hose-study-2016-findings

It has been alarming to see cases (e.g., Flint, MI, and Washington, D.C.) where lead levels were greatly elevated. You can view the test results of lead levels for public water systems on their websites. You can do the same for well water using a private laboratory.

Even if using a garden hose containing lead, it is very unlikely that the water used to irrigate your garden would raise the level of lead in the soil appreciably. Michigan State University measured the effect of irrigating garden soil with Flint, MI water and found only a very slight increase in soil lead levels:
https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/how_might_flints_water_contamination_affect_garden_soils_part_2
http://www.edibleflint.org/uploads/9/3/8/1/9381222/lead_safety_for_the_home_garden_info_sheet.pdf

We don't have information about the effects of garden hoses on the health or lead intake of chickens and other animals. "Drinking Water Safe" hoses are available that do not contain lead.It would be prudent to use these hoses to provide water for your animals.
Jon