Like probably every other kid on Earth, when I got thirsty playing outside on a hot summer day I would simply grab the green garden hose from the rock bed, turn on the tap and enjoy some delicious ice cold hose water.

It's been a long time since I have had water from a hose, but I can still taste it if I think hard enough. However, I wouldn't drink water from a hose today, as an adult.

Thinking of that sweet nectar nasty spider water got me to wondering just how safe/gross drinking from a garden hose really is. Is it as nasty as I imagine with insects and mold infesting the hose, or is it just an efficient way to cool off while working outside?

According to a 2016 study by the University of Utah, unless you are using a hose specifically designed for, and labeled as, 'drinking water safe,' that hose you are drinking from likely contains high levels of lead, bromine, antimony, and phthalates if it is a PVC hose. Non-PVC hoses did not have these contaminants.

PVC (vinyl) hoses frequently contained elevated lead, bromine, antimony, and phthalates in the flexible hose part. Non-PVC hoses did not contain these contaminants.

29% of the PVC hoses (7 of 24) contained at least 100 ppm and as high as 68,000 ppm lead.


Phthalates were found in 75% of PVC hoses tested (18 of 24).


Bromine >1000 ppm and antimony >500 ppm were found in 50% of PVC hoses. Analysis suggests recycled electronic waste vinyl was used in a number of PVC hoses, resulting in high levels of bromine (indicating brominated flame retardants), lead, antimony, and tin (indicating organotin stabilizers).


BPA and lead were found to leach from some hoses into water.

In addition, the water itself may have lead. From the Utah study:

Lead was found in the water from half of the hoses (3 of 6) whose water was tested.  These water samples contained 13, 19, and 20 ppb lead, respectively. The EPA action level for drinking water is 15 ppb.

The hoses that were labeled 'safe for drinking water' did not have lead detected in testing.

Whatever was in that water, it was delicious. And cold.

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