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21 Aug 2016

LET'S TALK ABOUT PLASTIC BOTTLES AND BPA!


I thought it would be a nice idea to create a little series on my blog where I talk about more ‘serious’ environmental subjects. I didn't really know a good name for the series, so for now the posts are just going to be titled 'Let's talk about..'. :)
So for the first post of the series, I’m talking about plastic (water) bottles and BPA.


Plastic bottles. These guys come in all shapes, sizes and colours. Though many people are aware of the environmental issues concerning plastic, how big of an impact do they actually have? And how bad are these plastic bottles for our health?

I am planning on writing several posts on the subject of plastic. Today’s post is health-related. Ever heard of BPA?


What on earth is BPA??
I remember hearing the word bisphenol A (that’s what BPA stands for) for the first time about a year ago. At the time, we were having several lectures about all the different types of plastic. Our professor told us about how BPA can leach from your plastic bottle into your water if you let it sit in the heat.
But let’s not jump ahead. What exactly is BPA?

Like I mentioned before, BPA stands for bisphenol A. It is a chemical mainly used in polycarbonate (a high-resistant plastic) and in the lining of food cans. Many reusable water bottles (mostly low quality baby bottles and sports bottles) are made of polycarbonate, because it’s very strong, high resistant, clear and has a glossy finish.

Unfortunately, many studies have linked the intake of BPA to several health problems. Though none of these studies were conducted on humans (because of ethical reasons), the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) has expressed their concern based on the results of tests on animals.
Some of these health concerns include obesity, ADHD, heart problems, diabetes, cancer and many more. But don’t worry, there’s a way to check what your plastic bottle or food container is made of.


Before we talk about that, you should know that some manufacturers claim their bottles and containers are BPA-free. Though that may be true, the BPA in these products is replaced by something called bisphenol S (or BPS). A study done by the University of California, Los Angeles (2015) showed that low levels of BPS have a similar impact as BPA.
So just remember: these bottles may be BPA-free but that doesn’t mean they’re safer!


What can you do?
First of all, it is highly recommended to never heat any plastic containers, even if they’re not made of polycarbonate. Try to avoid putting them in the microwave or the dishwasher. Let your leftovers fully cool down before storing them. If your non-reusable water bottle has been sitting in the sun or the heat, throw it away (you’ll often notice the water starts to smell and taste funny – that’s nature’s way of warning you!).

Because BPA has also been found in the lining of food cans, opt for vegetables is glass pots or soup in aseptic boxes instead of cans (obviously there’s nothing better than fresh vegs but we all know that cans are just an easier way out sometimes haha).

Other than that, it’s always best to check the symbols on the bottom of the bottle or container before buying or using it. The little triangle with arrows almost always has letters or a number in the middle. Here’s what they mean.



1: PET
  • polyethylene terephthalate
  • mainly used for disposable water bottles and packaging of cosmetics
  • recyclable but not reusable
  • relatively safe to use, as long as it’s not heated!

2: HDPE
  • high density polyethylene
  • mainly used for detergent and shower gel bottles
  • recyclable and reusable
  • safe to use!

3: PVC
  • polyvinyl chloride
  • the soft and flexible form of PVC is filled with toxic phthalates!
  • the soft form is mainly used for inflatable pool toys, cling wrap, shopping bags and many more
  • this type of plastic should be avoided!

4: LDPE
  • low density polyethylene
  • mainly used for squeezable bottles, laundry detergent packaging and grocery bags
  • recyclable and reusable
  • safe to use!



5: PP
  • polypropylene
  • mainly used for food packaging like yoghurt pots
  • recyclable and reusable
  • safe to use!

6: PS
  • polystyrene
  • both hard PS and PS foam contain styrene which is considered to be carcinogenic!
  • mainly used for foam cups and disposable food containers (soft form), disposable cutlery and packaging of cosmetics (hard form)
  • this type of plastic should be avoided!



7: Other (mostly PC)
  • polycarbonate
  • like I mentioned, PC contains BPA!
  • mainly used for baby bottles, reusable water bottles and safety glasses
  • it is recommended to avoid plastic that is marked with number 7!

In conclusion, numbers 1, 2, 4 and 5 are relatively safe to use. 3, 6 and 7 should be avoided if possible. I would also suggest making it a habit not to heat any of your plastic containers and bottles, as it increases the risk of toxins leaching into your food or water.

As for reusable water bottles, I would suggest looking for a stainless steel or glass alternative. I’m ordering a glass water bottle this week to take with me to school. That way, I won’t have to worry about these toxins leaching into my water. And even if my bottle would warm up on a hot spring day, the taste of the water will always stay fresh!

4 comments:

  1. Wow, checking out the kid's bottles as soon as I get home!!

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    1. Most good quality baby bottles are made of polypropylene, so they should be fine! :)

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  2. Positive site, where did u come up with the information on this posting?I have read a few of the articles on your website now, and I really like your style. Thanks a million and please keep up the effective work BpA free water bottles

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    Replies
    1. Hey! Thanks so much for your lovely comment! Well, I actually learned a lot about BPA from my uni professor. She is an expert at plastics and knows everything about its benefits and hazards. When I found out how bad BPA was, I started doing some research (see websites linked above). Thanks again for your comment, means a lot!

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