Water Bottles Leach Endocrine Disrupters and Carcinogens in Warm Temperatures
The results of a new study confirm what most already know regarding the dangers of drinking bottled water that’s been left in the sun. Published in the September journal of Environmental Pollution, scientists warn against leaving plastic bottled water in any warm place, especially the car.
The University of Florida’s soil and water science professor, Lena Ma, spearheaded the research studying chemicals released by 16 brands of bottled water kept at 158 degrees Fahrenheit for four weeks, a situation experts call a “worse case scenario” for human consumption, according to the study’s press release.
The analysis took place at Ma’s research program at Nanjing University in China. Surprisingly, only one out of the 16 brands exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) standards for antimony and bisphenol A, or BPA (a hormone mimicker widely found in plastics), according to the study’s results. Currently, the EPA’s maximum contaminant level for antimony is 6 parts per billion.
Plastic water bottles left in warm temperatures leach hormone mimickers
“Antimony is a regulated contaminant that poses both acute and chronic health effects in drinking water,” according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCIB).
It’s often combined with other metals to create strength and durability, and is known for leaching from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a common synthetic fiber used for packaging food and beverage products.
Antimony, which exists at low levels in the environment, is classified as a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization.
BPA and antimony are just two of several chemicals known to leach from PET plastic water bottles. Although regarded as totally safe by the plastic industry, and even environmentally friendly due to its recyclable nature, studies have shown PET often leaches dangerous hormone mimicking chemicals that can cause a variety of health complications.
The longer you leave your water in the car, the most toxic it gets
The longer the water bottles were left in heated conditions, the higher antimony and BPA levels soared, according to the study. “If you store the water long enough, there may be a concern,” said Ma, who is an Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty member.
Scientists say drinking bottled water that’s warmed in your car a few days won’t hurt you if it’s done so occasionally, but doing so regularly could cause health problems, especially for children.
While it might be true that drinking such water only a few times probably won’t hurt you, when combined with other sources of hormone mimickers, it may not be as innocent as some predict.
“Because BPA is a reproductive, developmental, and systemic toxicant in animal studies and is weakly estrogenic, there are questions about its potential impact particularly on children’s health and the environment,” according to the EPA.
BPA, and other endocrine mimickers, have been proven to impair development in the central nervous system, affecting the way hormones work in the body, which can lead to cancer, diabetes, obesity and reproductive complications.
Water bottles aren’t the only source of harmful endocrine disruptors, other containers merit further study, according to Ma.
“More attention should be given to other drinks packaged with polyethylene terephthalate plastic, such as milk, coffee and acidic juice,” she said. “We only tested the pure water. If it is acidic juice, the story may be different.”
Industry campaigns are still making desperate attempts to assure PET’s safety, claiming their bottles are non-BPA, however, some studies beg to differ.
For example, research published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectivesin 2011 found that the large majority of both commercially available BPA-free plastic and conventionally produced plastic both contained hormone mimickers.
Using glass bottles is the best alternative as it puts your mind at ease, removing any concerns regarding BPA and other endocrine mimickers leaching into your drink.