Bottled Water (PET)

Many people re-use their PET bottles by putting chlorinated and fluoridated tap water into them. The interaction between these two water chemicals and PET plastic is unknown. Also most children’s drinking bottles are made of plastic that has not been tested. Children are at greater risk because they absorb a much higher proportion of chemicals than adults.

German researchers say that water bottles made from PET plastic leach compounds that mimic the hormone oestrogen, raising questions about their safety. Previous research has focused on plastics containing the chemical bisphenol-a (BPA), during which time PET plastic water bottles have maintained a ‘safe’ reputation for human health.

But new evidence suggests that PET, or polyethylene terephthalate, may not be so benign after all.

Scientists at Goethe University in Frankfurt have found that estrogenic compounds really do leach from the plastic into the water.  Also, unidentified chemicals in these plastics have the potential to interfere with estrogen and other reproductive hormones, just as BPA and phthalates do.

"What we found was really surprising to us," says lead researcher Martin Wagner. "If you drink water from plastic bottles, you have a high probability of drinking estrogenic compounds. Overall, levels of these compounds in the water were surprisingly high."

The study adds to growing concerns about products that span the plastic spectrum, says Shanna Swan, epidemiologist at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in New York.

In other studies, plastic additives have been seen in urine and blood, and are linked to birth defects and heart disease.

Water is still a healthy beverage. Tests show far less estrogenic activity in tap water than in even the most "ultra-pure" bottled waters. It may also be time to reconsider how safe so-called "safe" plastics really are. It raises questions about all plastic bottles that children especially, drink from at school.

The solution? Some people need more evidence before they become concerned enough to change their habits. For others, the side of caution to err on, is to drink tap water out of non- plastic containers. Stainless steel and lined aluminum drinking bottles are becoming more easily available now.

Another way of improving water quality is to use good quality water filters, or have spring water delivered. A high quality water supply is a fundamental element that is essential for good health. Avoiding PET bottles is helping the environment too.


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