Straight from the Tap

Why You Shouldn't Drink Water from a Garden Hose (and When You Can)

06/21/2018

Look for one of these labels to be sure your hose is safe to drink from.

Taking a drink of water from a garden hose on a hot summer day may be a fond childhood memory. But in reality, most outdoor faucets and garden hoses, especially those made prior to 2014, are not meant to be used for drinking water.

While using your hose to water plants, fill water balloons, or run your sprinkler are all great ideas, many don’t meet the safety standards required for drinking water. They can contain lead or be made from materials that leach chemicals into the water, especially when heated by the sun. Plus, garden hoses are usually left outside in unsanitary conditions, making them susceptible to bacteria and insects.

For these reasons, it’s usually not a good idea to drink water from a garden hose or an outdoor faucet. However, there are faucets and garden hoses that are safe to drink from if properly maintained. If your garden hose or outdoor faucet is NSF/ANSI 61 or NSF/ANSI 372 certified, it means the products meet certain safety standards to be used for drinking water.

Outdoor hoses and faucets certified by the National Sanitation Foundation International (NSF) as meeting American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards for lead-free potable water will carry the NSF logo along with the applicable certification numbers on the product and its packaging.

  • Products certified as NSF/ANSI 61 have passed toxicological evaluations that the product does not leach chemicals into the water that may cause potential adverse health effects.
  • Products certified as NSF/ANSI 372 contain no more than 0.25% lead on any portion that comes into contact with water. In other words, this product is mostly lead-free.
  • Products certified as NSF/ANSI 61 & 372 meet both standards.

The NSF 61 and NSF 372 certifications are only attained through extensive third-party product testing, material analysis, plant inspections, and monitoring of product development and production. Products that claim to be “compliant with NSF standards” are not the same as products that are NSF certified.

If you have outdoor faucets and garden hoses that are NSF 61 and NSF 372 certified, or if you plan on upgrading to them, care must also be taken for environmental conditions. Germs and insects can enter hoses left lying outside on the ground. Put your garden hose away when it’s not in use and run water through it before drinking.

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