How Bad are Plastic Water Bottles for Your Health, Really?
An Urgent Warning
In 2008, Americans drank nearly 9 billion gallons of bottled water, which is second only to soft drinks as the largest beverage type in the U.S. market, according to the Beverage Marketing Corporation.
In the first study of its kind, researchers determined just how much BPA you absorb when you drink bottled water.
Its popularity has been growing strong since 2000, with significant sales growth noted every year of the decade … that is until now. In 2008, the gallons of bottled water consumption went down by 1 percent, for the first time this decade. And whereas in 2007 Americans drank 29 gallons of bottled water each, in 2008 that went down to 28.5 gallons. It’s a small decrease, but perhaps a sign of larger changes to come.
What are You Really Drinking When You Drink Bottled Water?
Plastic water bottles have come under scrutiny in recent years for both their environmental and health effects, including those surrounding the chemical bisphenol-A (BPA).
That BPA can leach out of plastic during everyday use, causing health problems, is hardly news. It’s now widely known that BPA mimics the female hormone estrogen and may affect fertility and promote cancer. And just last year it came out that BPA may also lead to heart disease, diabetes and liver problems.
Studies have shown that detectable levels of BPA exist in more than 90 percent of the U.S. population, but exposure has been blamed on not only drinking water and food, but also on dental sealants, dermal exposure and inhalation of household dusts.
Which leads one to wonder, just how much BPA are we exposed to when drinking from a plastic bottle? And how great are the health risks, really?
Well, a new study from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) found out.
The researchers recruited Harvard College students for the study in April 2008, and all 77 participants then began a seven-day “washout” during which they drank all cold beverages from stainless steel bottles in order to minimize BPA exposure. For the next week, participants were given two polycarbonate bottles and asked to drink all cold beverages from them.
Urine samples were taken at the end of each week-long period, and the results that came back were shocking: levels of BPA rose 69 percent after just one week of drinking out of plastic bottles.
"We found that drinking cold liquids from polycarbonate bottles for just one week increased urinary BPA levels by more than two-thirds. If you heat those bottles, as is the case with baby bottles, we would expect the levels to be considerably higher. This would be of concern since infants may be particularly susceptible to BPA's endocrine-disrupting potential," said Karin B. Michels, associate professor of epidemiology at HSPH and Harvard Medical School and senior author of the study.
While previous studies have found that BPA could leach from polycarbonate bottles into their contents, this study is the first to show the corresponding increase in BPA levels in humans.
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- The bottle is made of LDPE (low density polyethylene) plastic, which is BPA-free.
- The ultimate environment product. Eliminates 1,100+ plastic bottles, reduces carbon emissions and conserves natural resources.
- Saves you up to $1,000 in bottled water purchases per year.
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The end result is this: if you drink out of plastic water bottles, you can pretty much guarantee that you’re increasing your levels of BPA, which is very risky for your health.
Why You Do NOT Want to Drink Out of BPA-Containing Plastic Bottles
Chronic exposure to very low levels of BPA, such as might occur when drinking bottled water, is potentially very harmful.
"An expert panel of scientists has concluded that exposure to extremely low doses of bisphenol A is strongly linked to diseases such as breast cancer, prostate cancer, and diabetes, and to reproductive and neurological development," the Sierra Club reported.
And single-serve bottles are not the only ones to be concerned about. Consumer Reports found in 2000 that eight of 10 5-gallon water jugs they tested contained residues of BPA.
While the use of BPA in polycarbonate baby bottles was banned in Canada in 2008, and some manufacturers have voluntarily eliminated the chemical from their bottles, this is not yet widespread in the United States.
In fact, BPA is so widely used that it may be nearly impossible to avoid exposure entirely, however you can greatly reduce your exposure by avoiding BPA-containing products as much as possible, including one of the biggest BPA predators: plastic water bottles.
Plastic containing BPA may be called:
Make sure any plastic bottle you give to your baby is BPA-free.
Though it is generally clear, it can be tinted in various colors. Plastic that contains BPA carries the #7 recycling symbol, as well, so never use those bottles.
Are There Any Safe Alternatives?
Drinking plenty of pure water throughout the day is one of the best habits you can get into for your health. This is also what makes bottled water so convenient; simply throw a bottle in your purse, briefcase or gym bag and it’s easy to quench your thirst anytime.
Fortunately, there are options out there that give you the convenience of carrying water with you without risking the serious health effects of BPA.
One such option is to carry a stainless steel water bottle or one made of glass, covered in a protective glove to keep it from breaking. An even better option, which actually purifies your water on the go, is the Wellness H2.0.
The Wellness H2.0 combines the convenience of bottled water without the waste and with superior water quality; it is the next generation of water!
The guiding principle behind the Wellness H2.O is that water should be free ... free from harmful contaminants, free from plastic bottles, and free from the tap.
The Wellness H2.O is a personal, reusable BPA-free water bottle that features a unique filtration system that not only purifies ordinary tap water, but also enhances the water for better absorption and hydration. With this special filtration process you'll have access to high quality water wherever you go.
Over the life of a single Wellness H2.O water bottle you will not only significantly reduce your exposure to BPA compared with drinking from regular plastic bottles, but you will also eliminate the need for over 1,100 plastic bottles and all of the monetary and environmental costs associated with collecting, bottling, warehousing, transporting and retailing of water that is already available from any tap around the globe.
This is the only bottle on the market to produce nourishing, better-than-bottled-quality, "enhanced" water without the cost or waste associated with bottled water -- yet with the convenience of bottled water that so many love. With the Wellness H2.0, you can have superior quality water no matter where you are, just fill up and go!
For even more tips on how to reduce your exposure to BPA, including products to avoid, please read our past article Bisphenol-A: Why Makers of Toys, Medical Equipment & More Don't Want You to Worry About Bisphenol-A -- and Why You Should.
Is it Time to Give Up Bottled Water? The Facts, Marketed Illusions, and Health Risks You May Not Know About
Six New Studies Confirm Health Dangers of Plastic
Harvard School of Public Health May 21, 2009
Environmental Health Perspectives May 12, 2009
International Bottled Water Association 2008 Market Report Findings