Plastic Water Bottle Safety
by Dr. Trevor Cates
Q: Are plastic water bottles safe?
A: Drinking water on the go is a healthy idea, but recent research has been questioning the safety of plastic water bottles.
Most disposable water bottles are made from plastic derived from crude oil, polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Reusing plastic water bottles helps reduce waste, but the bacteria levels increase as they are re-used. Washing PET/PETE (#1) bottles may cause them to start breaking down and cause leaching of chemicals into the water such as DEHA, a carcinogen, and benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP), a potential hormone disrupter.
Many people turned to using the harder plastic water bottles made from polycarbonate plastic (often marked #7) thinking this was a healthier choice. However, this does not appear to be a safer alternative since polycarbonate plastic leaches bisphenol-A (BPA) into food and liquids. BPA is a chemical that has been linked to hormone-disrupting effects and several types of cancer. Normal wear and tear, cleaning, scratches, and heating accelerate the leaching. In addition to water bottles, plastic baby bottles, toddler sippy cups, hard plastic containers, food and beverage can linings (including infant formula cans), and dental sealants often contain BPA. Although some skeptics claim BPA does not pose human health risks, it is best to be safe and choose an alternative.
The safest options are reusable glass and stainless steel water bottles. Avoid metal water bottles that have a plastic lining since these may contain BPA. Glass and stainless steel containers do not seem to leach any chemicals into the water and handle frequent washing. These options are particularly important for babies and children since they may be more susceptible to the potential harm from these chemicals. Look for glass baby bottles and stainless steel sippy cups. Even with these safer alternatives, it’s important to wash reusable containers to avoid accumulation of bacteria.
Dr. Trevor Holly Cates received her medical degree from the National College of Natural Medicine. The first woman licensed as a naturopathic doctor in California, Dr. Cates now lives and practices in Park City, Utah where she sees patients from around the world as the Naturopathic Physician and Nutrition and Wellness Coordinator at the Golden Door Spa at the Waldorf Astoria Park City. Dr. Cates is a primary care doctor with a holistic approach to medicine, using nutrition, homeopathy, herbal medicine, environmental medicine, and other natural therapies. In addition to private practice, Dr. Cates was appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to California’s Bureau of Naturopathic Medicine Advisory Council.
You can also follow Dr. Cates on Facebook (Dr. Trevor Cates) and Twitter @drtcates for health tips, news and info and on her website at www.DrTrevorCates.com