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Nalgene water bottle safety concerns
Health risks associated with polycarbonate plastics have users taking a closer look at these popular water bottles
|Highly durable and lightweight, resistant to stains and odors, and able to withstand extremes of hot and cold, screw-cap Nalgene bottles are marketed as an environmentally responsible substitute for disposable water bottles. While different models of Nalgene water bottles utilize different plastics in their composition; the popular Nalgene Lexan bottles are made of polycarbonate plastic. These bottles are identified by the #7 recycling symbol (although not all #7 plastics are polycarbonate).
Polycarbonate plastic (PC) offers the benefits of durability and heat-resistance, but it is also a plastic known to leach the hormone-disrupting chemical bisphenol-A (BPA).
Concerns about the presence of BPA in water bottles' construction have led some retailers to remove polycarbonate containers made by Nalgene and other manufacturers from store shelves. But while here is little dispute that BPA can disrupt the hormonal system, scientists differ markedly on whether the low doses found in food and beverage containers can be harmful.
Are these bottles safe or not?
It should be noted that there have been no scientific studies which specifically link Nalgene Lexan water bottles to unsafe leaching of BPA. However, because these bottles are made of polycarbonate, their chemical composition suggests a connection.
In 2003, a study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP), confirmed earlier studies of baby bottles which found that while new bottles contained residual amounts of BPA, these amounts decreased dramatically after a short period of use. However, after repeated washings and scrubbings, the levels of BPA leaching from the bottles increased significantly. The study concludes, "The increased migration levels may be due to polymer degradation."
An expert panel of 38 academic and government researchers who attended a National Institutes of Health-sponsored conference in August 2007, said in a study that "the potential for BPA to impact human health is a concern, and more research is clearly needed." In response, the FDA stated: "BPA has been used in consumer products for over 50 years. In that time, there has been no evidence that BPA is harmful to humans, either as the result of dietary intake or industrial worker exposures."
The type of plastic bottle in which water is usually sold is usually a #1, and is only recommended for one time use. #1 PET or PETE bottles (polyethylene terephthalate) may leach DEHA, a known carcinogen, if used more than once. Better to use a reusable water bottle, and fill it with your own filtered water from home and keep these single-use bottles out of the landfill.
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