PET Bottled Water – The Unhealthy Way to Hydrate

While staying well-hydrated is a healthy choice, drinking water bottled in PET plastic is not. Studies have shown that any type of plastic will leach synthetic estrogens under the right conditions. This article covers what is known about the leaching ability of PET and non toxic solutions to replace plastic water bottles.

PET Plastic Water Bottles

I am old enough to remember when there was no such thing as bottled water. The water you drank came out of your well’s hand pump. Just kidding. I’m not THAT old. Now there’s bottled mineral, spring, seltzer and flavored waters. Thirty billion bottles of water are sold every year and unfortunately the majority of these bottles are plastic.

The plastic used for water bottles is polyethylene terephthalate (PET). This was once considered a very stable and safe plastic. However, several studies conducted since 2007 are finding that PET is a source of endocrine disrupters. And the quantity of toxins that leach from PET bottles is dependent on temperature, sun exposure and storage time.

Do You:

  1. Know how long the jugs of water you buy at the store have been sitting on the shelf?

  2. Know what the temperature was inside of the truck that transported your jugs of water to the store.

  3. Ever store water at temperatures above 60 degrees Fahrenheit?

  4. Ever store water for 6 months or longer?

Endocrine Disrupters in PET

If you answered no to the first two questions and yes to the second two consider this:

Antimony

Antimony (an endocrine disrupter and possible carcinogen) is used as a catalyst in the making of PET plastics. Studies have found that the leaching of antimony into water is linked to the storage time and storage temperature of water jugs. 

  • A 2007 study measured antimony levels in 132 brands of bottles water stored at room temperature for 6 months. They reported levels of the endocrine disrupter increased 90% in 48 brands and 19% in 14 brands.
  •  A 2008 study found that antimony begins to release slowly into water at 60 degrees F. At 75 degrees F it takes 4 days for antimony levels to exceed the 6 PPB (parts per billion) safe exposure level. At 85 degrees F it takes just one day. After a week of storage at 80 degrees antimony levels were 14.4 ppb, more than double the safety standard.

Phthalates and other EA

  • A 2008 study that tested 71 brands of bottled water in both glass and PET found the concentration of phthalates was 12 times higher in the water from PET bottles. Phthalates are not used in the making of PET plastics so it’s not clear yet how these endocrine disrupters got into the bottled water.

  •  A 2010 study that tested 500 plastic items for estrogenic activity (EA) found that 76% of the PET bottles tested released EA before being stressed. All of the PET bottles stressed by microwaving, being placed in a dishwasher or sun exposure released EA.

Isn't it time to consider some non toxic alternatives to plastic water bottles and jugs?

How to Hydrate Right

You really only have two choices when it comes to reducing your exposure to the endocrine disrupting chemicals that leach from PET water bottles and jugs. Buy bottled water in glass containers, which is very expensive and impossible to find by the gallon. Or invest in a good water filter, filter your water and store it in glass.

What’s in Your Water?

If you are connected to a public water system, the EPA regulates about 90 of a possible 500 toxins that could be in your water. The FDA regulates the same 90 toxins in bottled water. If your water comes from a well – well you’re on your own.

Common contaminants found in our drinking water include microorganisms, lead, nitrates and nitrites, arsenic, disinfection byproducts, and pesticides.  Filtering your water to remove as many toxins as possible is an important way to protect your health.

Clean Up Your Water

Depending on the filtering system you use, from counter-top to whole house, you can remove from 6-60 contaminants. Don’t assume that because you have a filtering system that it is the right filtering system for your water, and that it is protecting you from the toxins in your water.

My suggestion when deciding on a filtering system is to investigate the drinking water issues where you live. Actually read your water supplier’s Consumer Confidence Report, which will identify what they have found in your water. Well owners can access these reports on the water company’s website. The EPA.gov website is also a valuable resource.

No filtering system will remove everything that could be in your water. But let’s say you find that the pesticide atrazine, which the EPA regulates, is a problem in your water. If you have well water, make sure that your filtering system is rated to remove atrazine.

I’ve used Pur filtering systems for years because their 3-stage filters removed the most contaminants. However, a recent review on the performance of filtering systems had me rethinking this choice. Plus, it was one of the few plastic items that I still used. I am currently trying out a Big Berkey countertop filtering system with black filters and so far I love it. It’s convenient and the water tastes great.

The system is stainless steel and each filter is good for 3,000 gallons. So a two-filter system like I got will filter 6,000 gallons. Although they are the most expensive counter-top system you won’t have to constantly replace plastic filters for your plastic water jug. And it is rated to remove more toxins than any other system I found, except a whole-house reverse osmosis system. Info on the specific contaminants the system removes can be found at http://www.bigberkeywaterfilters.com/helpful-resources/test-results/.

With their potential to leach endocrine disrupting chemicals, drinking water from PET bottles will not support your healthy lifestyle. To avoid these toxins invest in a good water filter, one that will remove the contaminants commonly found in the water where you live. For non toxic solutions to plastic “water on the go” check out the article Are Plastic Water Bottles Harming Your Health?


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