The Danger of Plastic Water Bottles

Did You Know… that when you drink warm water from plastic bottles, you’re drinking two very dangerous chemicals?

The danger of plastic water bottles can be tracked to two chemicals: bisphenol A, otherwise known as BPA, and antimony.   While the US Food and Drug Administration maintains that plastic water bottles are perfectly safe, other health experts, such as Mayo Clinic doctors, are concerned, particularly for exposed children.  A study published in the September edition of Environmental Pollution demonstrates how levels of BPA and antimony spike when plastic water bottles are exposed to heat.

The Problem with Plastic 

Plastic water bottles are made from a material called polyethylene terephthalate.  When heated, this substance excretes the chemicals BPA and antimony.  BPA is a hormone disruptor that affects our hormones levels and balance, and has been linked to health risks including:

  • Cancer
  • Neurological issues
  • Heart problems
  • ADHD
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes

Enter Heat 

Researchers at the University of Florida studied 16 bottled water brands to see how they fared when exposed to 158 degrees Fahrenheit for four weeks.  They discovered that as the bottles got hotter and hotter, levels of BPA and antimony got higher and higher.  Only one brand of plastic water bottle went beyond the allowable safety standards of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  But that’s no guarantee.  As Lena Ma, soil and water science professor at the University of Florida, explains, “If you store the water long enough, there may be a concern.”

Researchers warned against leaving plastic water bottles in cars, especially during the warm summer months… a common enough practice!  Researchers also noted that it isn’t just water that poses a risk.  Milk, coffee, and juices packaged in plastic also carry BPA and antimony that leaks from the plastic and straight into our bloodstreams.

According to the International Bottled Water Association, bottled water is the #1 commodity in China, with 9.6 billion gallons sold in 2011.  The United States isn’t far behind in bottled water consumption at 9.1 billion gallons.  Perhaps this research will help bring those numbers down.

Wondering whether to reach for the plastic bottled water over the tap?  Lead researcher Ma believes tap water would be a better choice by far!