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RE: Lead in gardening equipment

The warning on hand-washing, etc. is driven by California's Prop 65 - the law that requires a product to be labeled with a warning to the consumer if it contains a carcinogen or reproductive toxin.  Many lawsuits by NGOs have focused on lead - in metal products, glazes, pigments, ceramics, PVC, etc.  Recent high profile cases are with lead in children's jewelry and vinyl lunch bags/boxes.  They have also focused on PVC garden hoses (I wasn't sure if you were talking about just the wand or the hose as well).  As in that case, they will typically settle with a manufacturer or distributor or group of them, with the result being a threshold of lead content above which the mfr/dist will agree to label the product with a warning.  Most mfrs will reformulate the product so that they don't have to label.

Products coming in from Asia often have Prop 65 warning labels, but US mfrs tell us that the Asian mfr may not understand the requirements and may slap a label on all products just to be safe or because they think it's supposed to be there (they claim that the same thing happens with UL labels).

Below is a press release from the NGO that brought suit for lead in garden hoses.


P.S., Scott, nothing screams "fashionista" like blue eyes, yellow sunflowers and a purple watering wand!


Lawsuit Wins Protection for Children from Lead Risks in Garden Hoses

San Francisco A California court signed a final settlement late last week in cases brought by the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) against makers of garden hoses. Under Californias toxics law Proposition 65, CEH sued the producers for hoses that leach lead into water, a potential hazard especially for children who drink from hoses or play in hose spray. Lead can cause brain damage and irreversible developmental problems in children.

The companies that settled include the countrys largest producer and distributor of garden hoses, the Ridgefield N.J.-based Tekni-Plex company, maker of Colorite Waterworks brand hoses. Other companies in the settlement are Teknor Apex of Pawtucket, Rhode Island and Flexon Industries of Newark, NJ. CEH cases against other companies, including Sears, Kmart and Martha Stewart, are ongoing.

In these hot summer days, its nice to know that kids will be able to drink from hoses safely,said CEH Executive Director Michael Green. Our yards shouldnt be danger zones where children are poisoned while theyre cooling off in the sprinkler.

Lead leaching into hose water can come from the vinyl (PVC) material used to make hose or from brass nozzles on hoses. In producing PVC, lead is often added as a stabilizer. In sunshine, lead in hose water is a particular concern, as heat can cause hoses to leach even higher levels of lead.

In the settlement signed Friday by San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ronald Quidachay, the companies agreed to reformulate their products to reduce lead exposures below Californias Prop 65 standard by 2007. In addition, warning labels on any hoses that could cause exposures above the standard would carry a prominent warning label reading, Do not drink water from this hose. Wash hands after use.

CEH filed legal notices to the hose makers last fall, after a July 2003 Consumer Reports story, "Dare you Drink From Your Garden Hoseexposed the problem with lead from garden hoses. The organization is represented in these cases by the Lexington Law Group, LLP, a San Francisco firm specializing in environmental and consumer public interest litigation.

Californias Proposition 65 toxics law and its Unfair Competition Law allow for citizen enforcement when consumer products contain illegal levels of toxic chemicals. In previous public interest cases, CEH has used these California laws to change entire industries, including pressuring the wood playground equipment industry to stop using arsenic-treated wood, and eliminating health risks from lead in major brands of baby powder and childrens medicines.

At 03:33 PM 8/21/2006 -0700, Butner, R Scott wrote:
I think we bought the same watering wand, Kathey. 
Well, not LITERALLY the same one -- that would be a real pain to share across the miles.   But the same model.
Normally, if I see such a warning on a product, I chose another product.  But in this case the purchasing decision was dictated by a higher power (my wife), who really, really, (really!) wanted that particularly sprinkler head (metal flake purple -- how could she resist?).
I may be an environmental criminal, but let me tell you this:  I look absolutely ravishing when I am out in the yard, watering my sunflowers.  The purple really brings out the blue in my eyes!!!
or so I've been told.  I actually think she says things like that just to avoid watering the yard herself.  
As far as I can tell, this product is the result of ONE vendor, who happens to be in many of the big box chain stores.  Seems to me that working with the vendor directly might make some sense. 

Scott Butner
Director, ChemAlliance
c/o Pacific NW National Laboratory
PO Box 999
Richland, WA  99352
Voice: (509)-372-4946/Fax: (509) 375-2443
Website: http://www.chemalliance.org/
E-mail: scott.butner@pnl.gov

From: owner-p2tech@great-lakes.net [mailto:owner-p2tech@great-lakes.net] On Behalf Of Kathey Ferland
Sent: Monday, August 21, 2006 3:15 PM
To: P2 Tech list serve
Subject: Lead in gardening equipment

Recently I purchased several items from large gardening shops which had warnings regarding lead.  The warning stated that you should wash your hands after use, etc.,  It sounded quite dire.  This included items such as watering wands and sprinklers.
Does anyone know what the laws/rules might be on lead in items in daily household use?  I was shocked to see these items contained lead.  Is there an effort to regulate lead content?  These are the types of items kids would play with, touch and even drink from.  Is there any group trying to raise awareness about this? 
Thanks for the info.

Kathey Ferland

Liz Harriman
Deputy Director
Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Institute
University of Massachusetts Lowell
One University Ave
Lowell, MA  01854

Phone: 978-934-3387     Fax: 978-934-3050