Plastic bottles that contain BPA should be avoided, as BPA has been linked to many serious health conditions. Drinking from plastic bottles that do not contain BPA is largely safe, and email claims that you may have seen to the contrary do not reflect what we know about the chemicals that they contain.
You may have seen an email in your inbox alleging that plastic bottles and films release DEHA - believed by some to be a harmful carcinogen - when heated. The American Cancer Society, Cancer Research UK, and the World Health Organization all disagree. Most plastic bottles don't contain DEHA or release it when they’re exposed to heat. According to the EPA, there's also no evidence that DEHA causes birth defects, cancer, or other health problems in humans. The World Health Organization agrees - right now, there's no evidence that people can increase their risk of cancer by consuming DEHA.
More worrying is Bisphenol A, or BPA - also found in certain varieties of plastic bottles. BPA has been linked through various studies to low birth weight in babies, obesity in adults, endocrine disruption, delayed brain and behavioral development in children, among other effects. How much is safe is still up for debate: BPA is banned in Canada and partially banned in Turkey and Sweden. The US and the EU, on the other hand, are allowing it for now. If you're pregnant and/or want to err on the side of caution, you should avoid plastic bottles that contain BPA. It’s commonly found in reusable water bottles. According to the FDA, however, the BPA in such bottles is not enough to cause harm.
The most common plastic in water bottles is polyethylene terephthalate, or PET. Some student research has indicated that PET is good only for one use; use it more than once, they say, and it'll leach DEHA and other dangerous chemicals into the water. This notion has not been borne out in the scientific literature; right now, the best evidence we have says that PET is indeed safe for reuse. One important caveat: wash your bottle thoroughly - PET plastic is porous, so repeated uses without washing could provide and environment for bacteria to thrive.
Using single-use plastic bottles probably isn’t bad for you. What it is bad for, however, is the environment. If you aren't reusing single-use bottles, recycling them, or drinking out of a bottle designed for reuse, those plastic bottles are ending up in a landfill. Plastic bottles are often made using oil, as well - driving the depletion of Earth's carbon reserves and the steady march of global warming. Be sure to recycle your single-use bottles after you're done with them or purchase a reusable bottle.
Possible long-term side effects
- bpa linked to:
- neurological disorders
- heart problems
- liver damage
- insulin resistance
- cell mutation
- reproductive disorders
- fetal cell toxicity
Ingredients to be aware of
- bisphenol a
- polyethylene terephthalate (may or may not be dangerous)
- deha (may or may not be dangerous)
BPA-free water bottles (what is this?)
Suggest improvement or correction to this article
Written by Sean McNulty | 10-11-2016
Written by Sean McNulty
Suggest improvement or correction