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Are Toxic Chemicals in Your Gardening Tools?

EMSL Analytical tests for phthalates, bisphenol A (BPA), and lead in consumer products.


Testing shows that many common gardening tools—including hoses, gloves, kneeling pads, shovels, and trowels—are contaminated with harmful chemicals, claims the nonprofit environmental group Ecology Center. CNN reports that the organization analyzed 200 popular gardening products and found that two-thirds of them contained significant levels of phthalates, bisphenol A (BPA), and lead.
The Ecology Center focused their testing on water hoses. They bought hoses, filled them with water, and laid them outside in the sun for 72 hours. Afterwards they tested the water and found levels of phthalate DEHP four times higher than federal drinking water standards. BPA levels were 20 times higher than safe drinking levels, and lead levels were 18 times higher than federal standards.
The group recommends buying vinyl-free tools and lead-free hoses that do not contain the chemical polyvinylchloride (PVC).
Phthalates are chemicals used to soften plastics and are considered endocrine disruptors, meaning they interfere with hormone function in the body. Some studies have also shown that phthalates cause birth defects and developmental issues.
BPA is a highly controversial chemical and has been banned in China, Canada, Malaysia, and all of the European Union. In the United States, its use has been widespread in consumer products since the 1960s. Past research indicates that BPA can mimic the hormone estrogen, and thus it is considered to be an endocrine disruptor. Some scientists claim that BPA is not a health threat, but studies have linked the chemical to a greater risk of cancer, diabetes, obesity, and behavioral problems in young children.
While lead is dangerous to everyone, children are at the greatest risk for lead poisoning. They are still developing and their small bodies would contain higher concentrations than adults. Possible complications resulting from lead poisoning are learning disabilities, mental retardation, behavioral problems, lowered intelligence, stunted growth, and hearing impairment.
“EMSL Analytical uses validated testing methodologies to analyze consumer products for phthalates, BPA, lead, and other toxic substances,” states Michael Chapman, Chemistry Laboratory Manager. “If needed, we also offer customized testing services for our clients.”
For more information on EMSL’s testing services, please contact EMSL at (800) 220-3675, visit, or email
About EMSL Analytical, Inc.
EMSL Analytical, Inc. is a nationally recognized and locally focused provider of consumer product, environmental, industrial hygiene, food, and materials testing services to professionals and the general public. In addition, the company offers a large variety of air sampling equipment, sampling cassettes, and monitoring equipment. The company has an extensive list of accreditations from leading organizations, as well as state and federal regulating bodies. They include, but are not limited to AIHA IHLAP, AIHA EMLAP, AIHA ELLAP, A2LA, NVLAP, CDC Elite, CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission), CA ELAP, NY ELAP, TX Department of State Health Services, and multiple other state accrediting agencies. Please visit our website for a complete listing of accreditations.


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 lead poisoning
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