Going Green part two: the dangers in plastic bottles

Posted Thursday, September 25, 2008 - 12:00am

To all who drink bottled water: drink tap water instead. In recent studies, it has become clear that drinking from the tap is better than drinking bottled water because of the toxins that can be released from the plastic used to make the bottle.

For years it has been expressed that drinking bottled water is better for you than drinking straight from the tap. It supposedly eliminated all minerals and bacteria that could possibly make you sick. Why then are water treatment plants still around? Because drinking bottled water can actually make you sicker than just regular tap water.

Bottled water is extremely convenient for the fast paced world we live in. All those bottles of water not only fill up the landfills, but they can actually harm us in the long run.

On the bottom of every plastic bottle and some plastic containers there is a number inside a triangle. This number is a reference as to which type of plastic was used for the bottle: 1 - PET, polyethlyene terephthalate, 2 - HDPE, high-density polyethylene, 3 - PVC, polyvinyl chloride, 4 - LDPE, low-density polyethylene, 5 - PP, polypropylene, 6 - PS/PS-E, polystyrene / expanded polystyrene, 7 - OTHER, resins or multi-materials. Though it may become confusing because of all the big words, here is an easy reference guide: 2,4,5 = safe, 1,3,6,7 = unsafe.

Most plastic bottles have the number one on the bottom. These bottles are meant for one-time use ONLY. They are easy to recycle and not harmful when you first buy them, but reusing them can cause the chemicals to leach into your water. The main toxin concern is Bisphenol A or BPA. This chemical is a xenoestrogen, meaning it disturbs the hormonal messaging throughout our bodies. Over time, these xenoestrogens can cause breast and uterine cancer in women, decreased testosterone levels in men, and are especially harmful to babies and young children. Unfortunately, most baby bottles are made with this chemical in the plastic, which can harm the development of your children.

There are many people out there who say bottled water just tastes better than tap water. For some areas with high salt content in the water table, this is true. But most companies, including Coca Cola, were found to be bottling plain old tap water and giving it a fancy label. You thought it was more refreshing and healthy when it would have been cheaper to get a glass of water out of your sink and it probably would have tasted the same.

This article is not meant to scare its readers, just inform them of the harmful effects that some plastics can have on a person. Though not all plastics are harmful, the possible leaking of chemicals into the liquids or food that are inside is a big concern. If there is a bottle of water that has been sitting in your car, don't drink it. Heat causes the plastic to become soft and leak chemicals. In the same instance, freezing bottles is completely safe, the key being cold causes a reverse action and makes it harder for chemicals to be released.

As said before, by buying a more expensive water bottle, you are less likely to encounter these issues. If you just can't bring yourself to drink regular tap water, there are packets of flavoring made by various companies that help with the taste but don't add extra sugar and preservatives. For the worrying mother, usually going with an opaque plastic or glass bottle is better for your baby. And for adults, check the bottom of the bottles. Only those with 2,4 and 5 are safe to reuse. All others should be recycled or used as ice packs for coolers. All facts and statistics can be found at www.nationalgeographic.com, www.wikipedia.org, and www.livinggreenonline.com.

Filed under: lifestyles