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The Dangers of Bottled Water

Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on July 16, 2009 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Blog

On a hot summer day it is easy to grab a pre-packaged bottle of ice cold water to quench your thirst. But have you ever stopped to think about what happens to that bottle after you have finished drinking the water? Or about how fresh that water really is?

In the USA, people go through over 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour of the day! Sadly, most of these bottles are not even recycled.

A study conducted last year revealed certain links between the chemicals that are found in some commonly used plastics, including plastic water bottles, and certain health conditions and diseases, like cancer, diabetes and birth defects.

Two of the most talked about chemicals that are found in plastic water bottles are Bisphenol A and Orthophthalates.

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a compound which has been used for nearly half a century in hard polycarbonate plastics and as well as in epoxy resins. BPA can also be found inside the lining of food and beverage cans and also inside plastic baby bottles, plastic water bottles, plastic food containers, eyeglasses, bike helmets, DVDs, electronics and even certain car parts.

Orthophthalates are better known as phthalates, and is a group of chemicals that is used to soften vinyl and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). They are found in various products like soaps, shampoos, deodorants, cosmetics, water pipes, shower curtains, toys, electrical wires, medical tubing and even vinyl flooring.

However, this same research has indicated a new place where these chemicals can also be found: inside human blood and urine. The cause of this, researchers suggest, is that the chemicals can break down and leak out of the products, especially when they are overheated. Therefore, not only are we exposed to these chemicals through the plastics but also through the food that we eat, the water that we drink and even the air that we breathe on a daily basis, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

BPA and phthalates have been described by researchers as being environmental estrogens as they act quite similarly to female hormones. Sometimes they are also referred to as endocrine disruptors due to their effect on a person’s endocrine system, which actually regulates both reproduction and growth.

Even though the plastics and chemical industries state that BPA and phthalates are safe, the National Toxicology Program reported in 2008 that exposure to BPA actually posed health risks to both human development and human reproduction:

“We express some concern that current estimated exposures of BPA to fetuses, infants and children could cause neural and behavioral effects, effects on the prostate and mammary gland and an earlier age at which females attain puberty,” testified associate director of the National Toxicology Program, John Bucher, at a Congressional hearing in June 2008. “We express negligible concern or minimal concern that current exposures to BPA could cause adverse health effects in other segments of the population.”

Before you down a bottle of water, have you ever thought about where it came from? Or how long ago it was packaged and shipped out to the store in which you just bought it? Researchers in Germany found that the longer a bottle of water sat on a store shelf or in a household pantry, the higher the dose of antimony that it contained. Upon testing for antimony, 15 Canadian brands of bottled water and 48 brands of European bottled water all tested positive. Apparently, the concentration levels reached more than 100 times the average level of antimony in pure ground waters (2 parts per trillion).

Moreover, water bottles that had sat at room temperature for six months or more contained an even higher concentration level. The antimony concentrations increased by 19% in Canadian bottled waters whilst the European brands had an increase of 90%.

The majority of the bottled water that was tested was packaged in plastic bottles that were made with polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Not surprisingly, antimony trioxide is commonly used as a medium in the production of PET. Concentrations of antimony differed amongst the brands of bottled water due to the water pH, sunlight exposure and different temperatures.

Americans throw away nearly 38 billion water bottles every year which all end up in landfills. That is an estimated worth of $1 billion in plastic!

You can do your part to save, not only the environment and your own health, but also your wallet, by buying a water filter that attaches to your kitchen faucet. This will help to ensure that the water you drink is really pure and healthy. Avoid drinking from or reusing plastic water bottles as they can make you ill. Rather chose to use containers that are made out of glass, stainless steel or aluminum that have a non-toxic coating.

Photo Credit: How Can I Recylce This?

Read also: Skullcap – When Your “Thinking Cap” Has Been on Too Tight!

Our Expert

Paulina Nelega, RH
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan

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