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How Healthy Is Your Water Bottle?

Water bottles

Summer is the time when water bottles are nearly considered a fashion accessory, as so many people carry them everywhere. Yet do you realize that your water bottle may be unhealthy? Here are some things about water bottles you should consider.

Did you hear the one about the water bottle?

Perhaps you have heard this story: During a Ellen DeGeneres show, singer Sheryl Crow commented about the relationship between her battle with breast cancer and her use of bottled water. She reportedly noted that her cancer doctor told her that women should not drink bottled water they have left in their car because dioxin can seep into the water from the plastic bottle.

This urban legend has been circulating for years on the Internet. In fact, plastics do not contain dioxins, and according to Michael Trush, PhD, deputy director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Urban Environmental Health, the sun beating down on a plastic water bottle is not powerful enough to create them.

However, leaving a plastic water bottle in your car on a hot day may cause BPA (bisphenol A) to leach into the water. BPA is a substance used in the manufacture of plastics to make them hard, and it has been shown in numerous studies to disrupt hormone activity, which has earned this chemical the nickname “hormone disruptor” or “endocrine disruptor.”

Research has suggested BPA may:

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Other substances found in some plastic water bottles are phthalates, which are used in the creation of plastics to make them flexible and soft. Phthalates also can be found in health care products (e.g., shampoo, hair spray, deodorant), plastic toys, shower curtains, dairy products, tap water, dashboards, raincoats, carpeting, insect repellent, laundry detergent—in other words, they are everywhere.

A growing number of research studies show there is a link between phthalates and health problems such as asthma, behavioral changes (including ADHD), birth defects, and reproductive problems.

What is the best water bottle?
Most single-use plastic water bottles available in the United States are BPA-free and phthalate-free. However, rather than purchase these bottles at all, consider the most healthful and environmentally responsible approach: a reusable water bottle made from stainless steel, glass, ceramic, or aluminum.

Even if you choose one of these options, be sure the product is labeled as “BPA free,” since some containers may be lined with an epoxy coating that contains BPA. If you ever use plastic bottles for water or other beverages or foods, those with recycling codes of 3 and 7 or the letters “PC” may contain BPA or phthalates, while those with recycling codes of 1, 2, 4, or 5 do not.

Braun JM et al. Prenatal bisphenol A exposure and early childhood behavior. Environmental Health Perspectives 2009 Dec; 117(12): 1945-52
Li DK et al. Relationship between urine bisphenol-A level and declining male sexual function. Journal of Andrology 2010 Sep-Oct; 31(5): 500-6
Prevention magazine

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