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February 22, 2008

Updated repeat after me: "No more plastic bottles, or #7 plastic, or things that leach BPA or aluminum..."

This is article 3 in a series. Read the other articles in the beverage series.

Ack! This is why going green can be so difficult sometimes. You make a simple trade-off to reduce your waste, and find out that you are potentially putting your health in jeopardy. Can't anything in life be simple and straightforward?

Yesterday, I recommended everybody switch their plastic bottles in for a regular-use water bottle. Little did I know the debate raging around the safety of such bottles. Here's what I've learned since then:

Rule #1: Don't use anything made out of #7 plastic.
Code_7_other #7 plastic is the official "other" category of the plastic family. By and large, #7 plastics are non-recyclable, which is one reason to stay away.

While many different types of plastic fall into this category, some can be dangerous to you.

Nalgene water bottles, some Tupperware, some baby bottles, the inner lining of soft drink cans, and other clear plastic containers are made with something called polycarbonate (PC) plastic. PC plastic has come under scrutiny lately for releasing a chemical called Bisphenol A or BPA.

BPA is a horomone, much like estrogen, that may possess significant health hazards when it leeches into our food and water. Recently it has been linked to breast cancer, obesity, neurotoxicity and schizophrenia. Yikes!

Because it's difficult to tell which items are made out of which material, it's safest to just avoid all #7 plastic. This means no Nalgene water bottles. I immediately ran over to my Tupperware to check it, but luckily mine is all made out of #5 plastic. :)

Here's a great article on health impacts of #7 plastic.

Rule #2: Look up the leeching studies for any water bottle you buy
Unfortunately, BPA isn't the only leeching thing you need to worry about. An aluminum water bottle could leech aluminum, which isn't healthy either. Other plastic chemicals leech as well. Go for a bottle that's as leech-less as you can find.

The big question: which water bottles are safest?
Some of my commenters expressed concerns over the Sigg bottles. Even though they are made out of aluminum, they are coated on the inside with a "water-based enamel" that they have not disclosed the ingredients for. Some believe this could mean the coating could be dangerous, leeching BPA.

I have not found any evidence of this, and in fact have found some studies to the contrary, showing that Sigg bottles leech no BPA.

If you want to be as safe as you can be, some people recommend the entirely stainless steel water bottles from Klean Kanteen.

As for me, if BPA leeches from the inside of soda pop cans, I'm about as innudated with it as I can be given my recent Diet Coke addiction. I think I'll stick with the risk of the Sigg bottle, given it's nicer design, durability, and shape.

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Comments

I just drinkn coffee in my stainless steel-lined coffee mug, is that safe?

Great round up on the topic, and some solid links referenced, Thanks!

Just thought I'd point out the existence of Nalgene's HDPE bottles (read: non-PBA-leaching-polycarbonate bottles). I've had mine for years and love 'em. Based on their durability and my extended use, I'm ok with the approximately .13 fl oz of oil necessary for the bottle's manufacture (per 1.75 kg oil/1 kg HDPE).

see: http://www.nalgene-outdoor.com/store/SearchResult.aspx?CategoryID=38

I was wondering how this plastic PBA relates to cups & Mugs, such as sold at starbucks and other coffee shops

You're worried about what's coming out of your water bottle and you're drinking Diet Coke????? Please Google "aspartame".

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