Caution! Your garden water hose may be hazardous to your health.
Do you know the dangers of backflow?
A man sprays commercial weed killer containing an arsenic compound on the lawn using a garden hose attachment. After finishing, he disconnects the applicator. Since it is a hot day, he takes a drink of water from the hose. A short time later, he dies from arsenic poisoning.
How could this happen?
While the man was spraying weed killer, the water pressure dropped, which resulted in the chemical being sucked back into the hose. Later, when he drank from the hose, the poison was in the water. He unknowingly poisoned himself.
When water flows backward through the water supply system, it is called "back siphonage" or "backflow." The danger comes when any hose including a garden hose, is connected to a harmful substance. If the pressure in a water main drops while the hose is submerged in polluted or contaminated water, then the water (and whatever is in it) could be sucked back into the water pipes inside your home and into the drinking water supply. Water pressure drops are not uncommon. It can happen when firefighters battle a nearby blaze or before an Authority crew repairs a broken water main on a nearby street.
Some harmful substances to be wary of are chemicals used to kill weeds, insects or lawn fertilizers. The cleanser used around the kitchen sink could be hazardous if ingested, as could the bacteria in the water from a wading pool or waterbed.
Keeping your water safe from contaminants is easy . The following steps will help protect your drinking water:
- Never submerge hoses in buckets, pools, tubs or sinks. Keep the end of the hose clear of possible contaminants.
- Don't use spray attachments without a backflow prevention device.
- Purchase and install inexpensive backflow prevention devices for all threaded faucets around your home. They are available at hardware stores and home-improvement centers.