By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
As the weather warms up, many of us are drinking more water. And for you, that may mean grabbing a cold plastic bottle from the fridge. But how safe are those water bottles you’ve come to rely on?
That’s the $64,000 question—and some of the concerns raised are certainly well-founded.
All plastic bottles, whether they’re used for water, tea or soda, are made with chemicals known as plasticizers. These plasticizers make them strong and flexible.
One of the chemicals in plasticizers, Bisphenol A (BPA), mimics the female hormone estrogen. It’s suspected of causing neurological and behavioral problems in babies and children.1 Over time, exposure to BPA can contribute to some pretty serious health problems, including cancer of the brain, breast, and prostate as well as reproductive problems in women. And chronic exposure may also weaken your immune system.
BPA can leach into the contents of water bottles through normal wear and tear, exposure to heat and cleaning agents. This includes leaving your plastic water bottle in your car during errands or running it through your dishwasher.
And a study conducted by the University of Missouri found detectable levels of BPA leached into liquids at room temperature.2 This means just having your plastic water bottle sitting on your desk can be potentially harmful.
But BPA isn’t the only chemical that might be leaching into your water. Recent studies show reusable bottles made of PET can be dangerous, too. PET (which stands for polyethylene terephthalate), can break down and seep into beverages when the bottles are reused. The toxin DEHA (Bis(2-ethylhexyl adipate) also appeared in water samples from reused water bottles. DEHA causes liver, thyroid and reproductive problems and might also cause cancer in humans.3
Luckily, there are a couple of ways you can avoid exposure to these chemicals and still stay hydrated. First, if you’re on the go and like to take water with you, switch to a stainless steel water bottle.
But, be careful. Many products on the market are lined with an epoxy finish made with BPA. Look for a “BPA-Free” seal on the bottle to make sure it’s made from only stainless steel, both inside and out. Stainless steel water bottles are light, durable and hold both hot and cold liquids well.
Glass bottles are another healthy alternative. Store your water in quart-sized glass bottles in your refrigerator for cold water any time you’re home. You can also find smaller glass bottles encased in rubber in some health foods stores. Yes, they are a bit heavier than metal or plastic bottles, but they are resistant to breakage and won’t give off a funny aftertaste.
Whether you opt for glass or metal, it’s important to avoid bacteria build up in your water bottle. Wash out your containers with warm water and dish soap. Be sure to wipe the mouth of the container and the lids. And most importantly, let the container completely dry before refilling.
Keeping any container continually filled with liquid can lead to bacteria developing and potential illness.
Staying hydrated is important all year long. And it’s especially critical during the hot summer months. How much water do you need? Here’s a simple formula to help you figure out your individual needs:
Take your body weight and divide it in half. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you need 75 oz (9-10 8oz glasses) daily.
Coffee, tea, colas and alcohol are all dehydrating, so for every cup or glass you drink, add an extra glass of pure, filtered water—minus the plastic, of course!
- Welshons WV. Large effects from small exposures. III. Endocrine mechanisms mediating effects of bisphenol A at levels of human exposure. Endocrinology. 2006;147:S56-69.
- Howdeshell KL. Bisphenol A Is Released from Used Polycarbonate Animal Cages into Water at Room Temperature. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2003; 111:1180-1187.
- Krüger T. Plastic components affect the activation of the aryl hydrocarbon and the androgen receptor. Toxicology. 2008;246:112-123.