Grow Hack: Is That Plastic Safe for Hydro?


Choosing hydroponic containers from resins other than the hydro-safe numbers 5, 4, and 2 may cause chemicals with varying degrees of toxicity to leach into the hydroponic water, be drawn up through the root system of the plants, and ultimately be consumed by the cannabis user. There are no long-term studies available to demonstrate the impact of these toxins on humans, so it falls to us, as growers, to be proactively responsible for the cleanliness of the product we produce. We already get enough of these toxic chemicals in our packaged food, why do we need it in our weed?

Try to just use plastics with the labels 2, 4 or 5, other plastics have toxic resin coatings that mostly make them unfit to be in direct contact with food products. If hydro piping doesn’t ever touch your buds, than why should it even matter? The chemicals in question are accumulative, meaning that whatever small amount leaches from the plastic into the nutrient solution gets more concentrated in the plant every time you refill the reservoir. We don’t know for sure how much Cannabis actually absorbs these dangerous chemicals, but laboratory studies currently in the works will soon uncover more of the issue.

Plastic #7, Plastic #6 polystyrene (PS), Plastic #3 polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and Plastic #1 (PET) or (PETE) can all leach toxins into the contents of the containers they make up. These toxins include but are not limited to BPA (Bisphenol-A), BPS (Bisphenol-S; marketed in products as BPA free, but still toxic), phthalates, antimony, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and styrene. 

In over 90% of resin tests, the toxins leached mimic estrogen in the body. These chemical estrogens disrupt the endocrine system in the body, and high amounts can cause “early puberty in females, reduced sperm counts, altered functions of reproductive organs, obesity, altered sex-specific behaviors, and increased rates of some breast, testicular, and prostate cancers.” BHP and phthalates pass through the uterine wall in vitro, and are found in breast milk. Dioxine, a known endocrine disruptor, is also a human carcinogen that leaches from PVC plastics. Styrene is classified as a carcinogenic, and causes neurotoxic symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness and difficulty sleeping. Styrene is also known to cause chromosomal abnormalities, low platelet count and reduced immune response. This is a partial list of the toxic environments that can potentially occur within a hydroponic system that has utilized the plastics #7, #6, #3, and #1. 

Prevention is the responsibility of the gardener. We want our patients to utilize quality canna-meds, and we want these clean cannabis products to make patients well. Regardless of the political and corporate struggle that consumers are caught between when it comes to truth in packaging, it is wise to follow the science, which demonstrates that resins leach toxins, and toxins cause physical and environmental imbalance. When establishing a hydroponic gardening system, look for the signs 5, 4, and 2. 

I hope this information helps. Plant a seed, dip a clone, and grow on!

April K Price

Oaksterdam University Student 
Founder, Terracopia Gardens

Member NCIA, NORML, ASA, DPA, CCPR, EcoTourism NOA

terracopia.org

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