Lead poisoning in children, is it a real concern? Can drinking from a garden hose be dangerous? Can water from a garden hose cause lead poisoning in children? It is the middle of July, and here that means hot, scorching weather. It is pool season were I live. With small children too young to swim, a local community pool membership is pointless. I wanted something to give them a bit of safe and convenient backyard fun. Well I found it in a Sports rectangular Family Pool.
Hose Water: Can it Cause Symptoms of Lead Poisoning in Children?
My husband and I set up the 20 x 7 ft pool and we were ecstatic that it was easily inflatable with an Intex electric pump and instantly collapsible. Within 10 minutes we had the pool ready for water. And when the boys were done playing we could deflate the thing in 5 minutes. This meant we could set up and take down the pool daily if we wanted and not have to worry about killing the grass or having one of the boys sneak into the pool unsupervised, and the water would be fresh from the hose and clean for every use.
Two weeks into having the new pool, my younger son started to get pretty brave. His older brother liked to drop quarters and then fish them out again. Well, he wanted to stick his face in the water—to see up close what his brother was doing—and so he did, only to come up choking the bit of water he swallowed on the way down. It was all harmless exploration, or so I thought until I turned on the television this morning for a special segment on ABC’s Good Morning America.
It was about garden hoses and the harmful amount of lead they leak when we use them to water our gardens and fill our pools. According to that report, some garden variety hoses are leaking 20x the amount considered safe for use. Does that mean that drinking water from a garden hose will cause lead poisoning in children? Still not down to the bottom of my coffee cup, I immediately think of my son who is running around nakies with his swimsuit over his head. He can’t wait for me to finish so that he can take the plunge again today.
The report named specific brands of hoses with lead leaking violations, all clearly labeled “Not for drinking”. Then they named a few camper/RV hoses currently on the market that are lead-free and safe for drinking.
In the midst of all this life shattering news about lead poisoning in children my son grabs his dump truck. I am half-way through dressing him, but obviously not fast enough. He says he wants to wash it in the pool. I’m struggling to help him get his second leg through the trunks without spilling my coffee or tuning out the lead poisoning from garden hoses hype on T.V.
Do I drain the pool? Should I run out and buy a lead-friendly hose at more than twice the price? Do I carry buckets of water from my sink? By the time I get done running around trying to protect my son from lead poisoning it will be time for his nap. I reason that one or two gulps of pool water, or sips from the garden hose will certainly not permanently harm him, after all these are things I did myself as a child. But I’m still not comfortable with the idea.
According to Consumer Reports review on garden hoses and lead,
“It’s OK to drink from a hose only if it’s labeled safe or if you flush it first. Otherwise, the water standing inside may contain worrisome amounts of lead and other chemicals that leach from the hose itself. Many hoses are made of polyvinyl chloride, which uses lead as a stabilizer” Get the Lead out of the Garden Hose.
I put down my cup and do a quick Google search on lead poisoning in children from garden hoses. According to the National Safety Council Library of Facts about Lead, lead poisoning in children can produce a wide range of adverse health effects. There are tens of millions of children who have suffered health problems from lead poisoning. So it’s a real concern.
The site claims that the dangers of lead poisoning in children lessen with age:
“Young children under the age of six are especially vulnerable to lead’s harmful health effects, because their brains and central nervous system are still being formed. For them, even very low levels of exposure can result in reduced IQ, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorders, behavioral problems, stunted growth, impaired hearing, and kidney damage. At high levels of exposure, a child may become mentally retarded, fall into a coma, and even die from lead poisoning. Within the last ten years, children have died from lead poisoning in New Hampshire and in Alabama. Lead poisoning has also been associated with juvenile delinquency and criminal behavior.”
So how much hose water would my son have to drink before being getting lead poisoning? I couldn’t find the exact answer to that, but did find that the CDC did a study on a 13 month-old infant that had lead poisoning after drinking formula on a daily basis mixed with lead-contaminated tap water. This is common for those with old plumbing systems, and the solution is to run the faucet or the hose for about 30 seconds before drinking any water from it or using it to fill your tub or pool, always use cold water for cooking and drinking, and get a good faucet filter. This type of exposure to lead poisoning in children is much higher than exposure through a swimming pool a couple of days a week.
Or is it?
I researched a little further and learned that the body will naturally eliminate low levels of lead naturally, as long as the person maintains a healthy diet Using a healthy diet to naturally manage low levels of lead exposure.
This put things into a much more realistic perspective for me. The chances of my son getting lead poisoning from swimming in a hose-filled family pool are pretty slim. I plan to make sure I’ve got a good hose brand, and I will certainly run the water until it is good and cold before I begin to fill the pool. I’m not concerned. I’ll just teach him to hold his breath and not drink pool water; Problem solved!
If you are Worried about Lead Poisoning in Children
The lead-free hose brands tested in the Consumer Reports article and labeled safe for drinking were: