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Facts about Toxic Plastic Water Bottles

Submitted by Stella Morgan on November 18, 2010

Bottled Water

There is a lot of money that is spent every year on the purchase of bottled water all over the world. The bottled water industry is huge and has been around for decades. Over the years, people have come to believe that the water that we drink from a bottle is much better and cleaner than the water that we get from our taps.

A Washington-based organization recently found that if only a fraction of the amount of money spent on preparing bottled water is actually spent on proper sanitation, each house in the United States of America could get pure drinking water at their home. Sadly, there are millions of people today who do not have access to clean drinking water.

Bottled water, or ‘mineral water’ as it is often termed, is not always as pure as we may think. Bottled water consumption throughout the world is about 154 billion liters, as recorded in 2004. In the latter half of the last decade, this amount must have increased by almost double. If experts are to be believed, the consumption of such large quantities of bottled water can have drastic impact on the environment.

Since the bottled water industry is the largest consumer of plastic, the carbon footprint of this industry is very large.

Another cause of concern is the toxic bottled water that is often sold as clean bottled water. In most cases, bottled water is no cleaner than the regular tap water.

Even though bottled water may cost almost 10,000 times more than tap water, there is not much difference in terms of constitution and mineral content. In the United States of America, bottled water costs more than gasoline.

Some of the bottled water facts are rather shocking.

If the plastic bottles used to bottle the water are toxic, the toxin in plastic water bottles can seep into the water, thus contaminating it. Also, while tap water is brought to your home through an energy efficient mechanism, the same cannot be said about bottled water that not only involves large scale consumption of fossil fuels but also involves the use of a lot of plastic material.

Water bottles are made with polyethylene terephthalate. This is a plastic polymer that is derived from petroleum. To meet the current market demand of bottled drinking water in the United States of America about 1.5 million barrels of oil is used up every year.

Lately there has been a lot of buzz about the safety of plastic containers for storing food. As a consumer, it is your right to know about the safety of the materials you are purchasing. Though sometimes, people may overlook the safety hazards of certain accessories in the home just because other people are doing the same and because of convenience.

This doesn’t mean that you should not be aware. Since plastic is cheap and convenient, most people buy plastic containers to store their food in. Little do they know that plastics come in various grades and most of these grades contain toxic materials which might leach onto your food.

PVC or polyvinyl chloride, although not the commonest plastic used in the manufacture of various kitchen items and cooking utensils, is a highly toxic plastic. This plastic contains a compound called DEHA, a softener which allows the plastic to set into a particular shape. Environmentalists have been protesting the use of PVC because the DEHA contained in it can have long term effects on the human body.

Long term exposure to DEHA can reduce both body and bone mass. The toxic material when ingested over a long period of time can also cause cancer or severe damage to the liver and the testes. PVC is so toxic that both its manufacture and its disposal by incineration cause expulsion of toxins which are harmful for the environment.

Other plastic types which belong to higher grade contain polycarbonates which have the compound bisphenol.  

Though almost all plastics leach petroleum by products into food and water, some plastics are considered safe enough to be used to store foods. Plastics like polyethylene terephthalate, low density polyethylene, high density polyethylene and polypropylene are safer to be used for storing food.

It is also important t be able to recognize the plastics which are not good for you. Plastics that contain polycarbonates are clear and hard. These contain bisphenol which can prove to be a serious health hazard. Check all food storage containers, water bottles, baby bottles, bowls and other tableware for polycarbonates. If you are not sure, it is best to ask the manufacturers or the retailers directly.

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