While the bulk of the research shows that Plastic #7 (Lexan, Nalgene and other polycarbonate) bottles do not leach BPA in amounts proven to cause health concerns in humans, some governmental advisory bodies such as Health Canada are considering banning them. Water bottle manufacturers swiftly responded by changing their plastic recipe to eliminate BPA, or happily labeling "BPA-Free" the polyethylene plastic and aluminum bottles that never had the chemical.
Does Bisphenol A Leach from Bottles?Studies subjected plastic BPA-containing bottles to brutal conditions to see whether they would actually leach BPA. The bulk of the research found zero to minimal leaching, far below safety standards. But many people prefer to avoid it altogether. I had several walkers at a walking festival question whether the free bottles the sponsor provided were "safe." The market responded fast to satisfy those customers, even if their fears ultimately are unfounded.
Should People Who Use a Water Bottle Regularly Worry about BPA Leaching?Researcher Scott M. Belcher, PhD of the University of Cincinnati Department of Pharacology and Cell Biophysics published research on BPA leaching. Here is his answer:
"I am a runner/cyclist and understand the concern - the typical bike bottles and "softer-plastics" are not typically made with BPA. So if there is a concern about BPA's safety or impact, those bottles are not a major contributor. The hard plastic or epoxy-lined bottles are the ones to be aware of, and if there is a concern, avoided."
"As far as worrying - BPA can act as an endocrine disruptor. The direct negative impact on humans is very hotly contested. This is an on-going discussion between scientists, regulators, consumers, corporations, and advocates. There is evidence from animal models that raise concern. Increasing links in human epidemiological studies are showing that higher levels of excreted BPA are associated with some human disorders. There is also evidence that when consumption of BPA in beverages is avoided by not using BPA containing bottles, a drop in BPA in the body occurs. So if you are concerned about the possible negative health effects of BPA, then it would be prudent to consider whether or not your water bottle contains BPA."
Are There BPA-Free Water Bottles?Yes. Many water bottles were never made with polycarbonate. And companies such as Nalgene have reformulated their plastic without BPA. Look for prominent labeling of BPA-Free on water bottles as a marketing tool. Testing published by Dr. Belcher found that the new Tritan copolyester plastic bottles and SIGG aluminum bottles lined with EcoCare coployester did not leach any detectable BPA. "For those two cases - it looks like there is meaning in the BPA-free label. Co-polyesters should not have BPA and if you are targeting products made with those materials, it seems to standup to our ability to detect contaminating BPA," said Belcher.
Reviews of BPA-Free Water Bottles
Reusable Water Bottles are Better for the EnvironmentDisposable bottled water bottles and other drink containers are a poor use of the earth's resources, even if recycled. Using a sturdy, refillable water bottle is a great way for walkers to be thrifty and be kind to the earth.
Ways Walkers Can Be Kind to the Planet
Studies of Bisphenol A Exposure in Mice:
vom Saal FS and others. A physiologically based approach to the study of bisphenol A and other estrogenic chemicals on the size of reproductive organs, daily sperm production, and behavior. Toxicology and Industrial Health 14:239-260, 1998.
Cagen SZ, Waechter JM Jr, Dimond SS, Breslin WJ, Butala JH, Jekat FW, Joiner RL, Shiotsuka RN, Veenstra GE, Harris LR. Normal reproductive organ development in Wistar rats exposed to bisphenol A in the drinking water..Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 1999 Oct;30(2 Pt 1):130-9.
Studies of Leaching of Bisphenol A:
Mountfort KA, Kelly J, Jickells SM, Castle L. Investigations into the potential degradation of polycarbonate baby bottles during sterilization with consequent release of bisphenol A.. Food Addit Contam. 1997 Aug-Oct;14(6-7):737-40.
Onn Wong K, Woon Leo L, Leng Seah H. Dietary exposure assessment of infants to bisphenol A from the use of polycarbonate baby milk bottles. Food Addit Contam. 2005 Mar;22(3):280-8.
James E. Cooper, Eric L. Kendig, Scott M. Belcher. "Assessment of bisphenol A released from reusable plastic, aluminium and stainless steel water bottles." Chemosphere, In Press, Corrected Proof, Available online 8 July 2011