BPA’s leaching into rain barrel water?

June 21, 2009 |

I’m not sure who could help me with this question but I am considering installing a rain barrel to collect water for my vegetable garden. I am finding no information, however, on whether the large plastic drums have BPA’s in them or not. If they do, is it harmful to water vegetables with this water? Or does the BPA break down in the soil somehow? I can’t seem to find a BPA free plastic drum, just some “food-grade” ones but apparently you can’t trust food grade stuff either. Any info you have would be greatly appreciated.

3 Responses to BPA’s leaching into rain barrel water?

  1. Anonymous June 21, 2009 at 9:33 pm #

    The roofing material that the rainwater is collecting from is probably a bigger health concern than the plastic barrel. If you have an asphalt shingle roof you will likely be getting some of the tar substances in your garden. If you have cedar shingles your plants may not be the happiest (although if moss is growing on the shingles then maybe all the natural toxins are already gone). If you have a steel roof, you are probably getting safe water in your rain barrel.

    I use a rain barrel, but only use it to water my flowers. I just don’t trust the asphalt shingles.

  2. Anonymous June 21, 2009 at 10:11 am #

    Hi, Good question!
    As you probably know, fresh fruits and veggies can accumulate BPA, so you are wise to think this through! See great report with this info—

    (Scroll to July, 2008, “Blissfully Unaware of BPA…”

    In polycarbonate, BPA is actually the building block. In some other plastics, it acts as a hardener and sometimes it is an accidental contaminant. Polycarbonate is extremely hard and not likely to be what your barrel is made of, but if you see PP or recycling symbol #7 on the bottom, then it could be.

    If it is another type of plastic, it could still be leaching plasticizers of some sort, so I would suggest a material other than plastic for your rain barrel (weren’t they made of wood at some point?).

    Good luck!

  3. NeuroJoe June 21, 2009 at 8:53 am #

    I believe that the plasticizer BPA is used mainly in the production of polycarbonate, PET and epoxy resins to keep them flexible. I’m not positive, but I think that the 55 gallon food grade barrels that are commonly used for rain water collection are made of HDPE. These containers do not have to be as flexible as those that are manufactured to hold things like soda and water in individual serving sizes, so they typically do not contain high levels of plasticizers like BPA.

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