By August 30, 2013 Read More →

What’s in Your Water Bottle Besides Water?

water-bottleThe fight against the ban of plastic bottled water has begun years ago, but not a lot of people give up its presence on this planet. It’s still seen everywhere at school, at home, and in the office. Thankfully, a lot of people have opened their eyes to the fact that this kind of convenient drink can apparently bring harm as a lot of communities, schools, and local establishments are slowly banning the use and sale of plastic bottled waters in their premises. However, due to the convenience and affordability that it possesses, there is no doubt that people are easily lured to its benefits. But what you don’t know is the fact that if you buy plastic bottled water, you’re not only gulping the water, but you’re also drinking all the chemicals that are present in the plastic. Scary, isn’t it? How is that possible, anyway? Here’s what you should know about what’s in your water bottle besides water.

Firstly, the manufacture of plastic bottles is done thru several stages with the present of chemicals led by PET or Polyethylene Terephthalate because of its two main characteristics – durable, yet lightweight, and BPA or Bisphenol A. To help you realize more about the damaging effects of these chemicals, let’s first start with its manufacture processes. To start the process, PET is first formed by the use of petroleum hydrocarbons. Once PET is produced, the polymerization process takes place. It is during this very procedure that flaws and impurities can occur, thereby, producing tons of chemicals during the run. Chemicals like diethylene glycol and acetaldehyde are by-products of this stage that, unfortunately, are not totally eliminated. In fact, these can stay in the bottle, adding to a bottled beverage’s odd taste.

The first part of the creation of plastic water bottles is stretch blow molding. PET is disfigured to become a long, thin tube as it is heated and placed in a mold. Once it has become a tube, it is now called parison, which is then transferred to the second bottle-shaping mold. In this process, the parison is filled with highly pressurized air being made possible by a mandrel, which is inserted into the parison. In this procedure, the parison, because of the blowing and the high pressure, then stretches and forms into the shape of a bottle. To ensure that its bottom remains flat and consistent, manufacturers use a separate plastic module that is attached to the parison while it is being molded to its final form. After this procedure, the new product is cooled very quickly thru direct and indirect methods. Direct methods include the use of pressurized air or carbon dioxide applied directly to the mold and plastic while indirect cooling uses pipes that are filled with running water and placed surrounding the mold. Basically, the whole process sounds very harmless and cool, but it is the presence of carbon dioxide and the use of highly pressurized air that makes it quite harmful to the environment.

There you have it: PET, diethylene glycol, and acetaldehyde right in that plastic bottle that’s sitting near your computer right now or that’s filling your refrigerator yesterday or conveniently tossed into your son’s pack bag this morning. But, we should not forget another popular, yet loathed component of plastic – BPA or Bisphenol A. BPA is another by product during polymerization. It does not bid goodbye after the process as it actually sticks to the inside lining of cans, plastic water bottles, and the likes; not to mention that it’s also present in most microwaveable food containers in the market, too. This particular chemical is noted to be ubiquitous in the US as it was shown that 93% of those people who were taken urine samples prove to be positive with BPA, which is not something that we should be shocked of since the US is known for its massive use of plastics at home, in the office, and even in schools. Now, what makes BPA popular? Scientists found that high exposures to BPA can practically harm a developing fetus and even the reproductive system of the mother. Now that you know the main chemicals that are inside those plastic water bottles that you carry during gym or yoga sessions, let’s take a look as to how they can be harmful to our environment and to our health.

The Chemicals and its Harmful Effects

Polyethylene Terephthalate – PET is one of the most popular chemicals ever found in plastic water bottles because it is a product in polymerization – the first procedure in the creation of plastic bottles. It is ideally used for soft drinks or carbonated drinks because it is capable of containing carbon dioxide. It is actually that unusual odor that emanates from the bottom of bottled sodas and is even considered by the FDA as an indirect food additive. One of the many dangers that PET can cause to human health is the fact that it’s a carcinogen as studies in animals show that it causes tumors and formations when take at sensible doses. It also disrupts normal endocrine production and may cause woes to a woman’s reproductive system.

Diethylene Glycol – DEG is a largely used as a solvent and is a renowned contaminant in most consumer products. It has caused an epidemic poisoning in the 20th century in numerous countries including South Africa, Spain, India, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Argentina, Haiti, China, and Panama. While the horrible deaths of people from the mentioned countries were caused by the presence of diethylene glycol in over-the-counter medications and ointments, it should not discount the fact that regular exposure of DEG thru your water from plastic bottles could also contaminate your internal body organs, one way or the other. The patients experienced vomiting, diarrhea, kidney failure, bleeding, and, to the extent, death of both adults and children that had been exposed to the chemical at large amounts. They took the medication orally while the others applied the ointment topically in few days before they started to show symptoms of DEG poisoning.

Acetaldehyde – This agent is primarily used in alcohols, dyes, perfumes, and as preservatives. Although it is only found to have very minute amount in plastic water bottles, it is still essential that you know what’s inside your plastic bottled water since it also has the potential to seep into your system. On the one hand, it’s good to know that alcoholic drinkers are commonly the first persons to experience the hazard of this chemical since it’s largely present in most alcoholic drinks. Its adverse effects to health include pneumonia, damage of a person’s reproductive system, and possible multiplication of cancer cells.

Bisphenol A – Last, but definitely not the least is the more popular ingredient, BPA. For one, parents all over the world have been alerted of the significant presence of BPA in most baby bottles and baby training cups. This agent is most apparent in the urine of people who use plastic water bottles frequently, canned goods, preserved foods in plastics, and the likes regularly. On the one hand, the voluntary recall of Nalgene bottles in most grocery shelves in some time was the center of attention when risks of BPA contamination were detected. The company had replaced their product with another type of plastic called Tritan copolyester.

One of the ways to avoid these chemicals from leaching into your system is to use non-plastic water bottles and glass bottles at home, in the office, or at school. Avoid using emptied plastic water bottles, too, since chemicals could leach into the water this way. So, tell me, what’s included in your water today?

Posted in: Food, Nalgene

About the Author:

A senior writer and editor of The Green Guide and a father of 3 kids (1 girl and 2 boys). Rob's special interests include geography, enviroment study and hiking. Rob has traveled to over 100 places in 30 different countries in the past three years. His exotic and fun experiences will be talked in his new book which is going to be published soon.

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