Plastic water bottles - they’re in every supermarket, vending machine and restaurant. It’s so easy to grab one on the go and even easier to keep and refill, saving money on buying a ‘proper’ reusable bottle. What’s the harm in it? Maybe more than you think. You may not be aware of what you’re actually putting into your body every time you drink from one of these disposable dangers.
How are plastic water bottles made?
It's possible you’ve used hundreds of plastic water bottles in your lifetime, without giving much thought to where they come from. Raw plastic is made from a variety of organic polymers and materials, which are often listed on the base of the bottle itself with a resin identification code.These can include polyethylene terephthalate, high-density polyethylene, low-density polyethylene, polypropylene or polycarbonate. The raw materials are then moulded and cast, creating the finished product, ready to fill and distribute. But just how dangerous are they?
The risks of bottled water
When discussing the dangers of plastic water bottles, Bisphenol A, or BPA, is often brought up. This is a chemical known as an endocrine disruptor. This means it affects hormone levels in the body, something that can have far-reaching consequences for the unsuspecting drinker. This potentially dangerous substance can be found in the form of plastic known as “type 7 plastic”, which many manufacturers are starting to avoid. So, all good as long as you know what to look for, right? In fact, there are still a variety of potentially harmful chemicals used in the production of disposable water bottles. The water can mix with the chemicals in a variety of complex, and potentially toxic, ways. This includes other endocrine disruptors—as well as many common substitutes for BPA, showing that the problem hasn’t yet been solved.
The problems are increased when the bottles are continually refilled and reused, left to sit for long periods of time, or left in a hot or humid environment. This can cause the chemicals in the plastic to leach into the water — effectively, the water ‘goes bad’. And there’s no easy way to tell if you’re drinking bad water, so you might be unwittingly exposing yourself to the harmful side effects every time you take a sip.
What kind of side effects? Remember those endocrine disruptors? Some of these can cause extreme imbalances in your body’s hormones by acting as a fake estrogen, wreaking havoc on your chromosomes. The effects of these imbalances have been strongly linked to reproductive issues, both before and after pregnancy. These imbalances can affect female and male fertility: lines have also been drawn between chemicals found in plastic water bottles and birth defects or developmental disabilities such as hyperactivity disorders, early-onset puberty, and even an increased risk for certain cancers. In fact, some studies recommend that expectant mothers avoid bottled water entirely.
These hormone imbalances can affect other things, too. You may have heard that that staying hydrated is important in weight loss and a healthier you. However, you might be surprised to learn that hormone disruptions can affect weight management. As the body is exposed to chemical compounds, this can influence the rate and distribution at which fat is stored in your body. Drinking more water may be the start to a healthier diet, but the plastic it’s being stored in sure isn’t.
Not only that, but exposure to these toxins has also been linked to higher rates of other serious medical complications. People who drink large amounts of bottled water with high concentrations of chemicals like BPA or other replacements have been shown to be far more likely to suffer from health conditions like cardiovascular disease or even Type 2 diabetes.
Not only can these plastic water bottles directly affect your health, but they can also have a huge impact on the environment. Each bottle carries a significant carbon footprint when you consider the manufacture, filling and distribution around the world. Of course, this can be mitigated by recycling, but can you be sure if proper procedures are being followed when you dispose of your bottles? Plastic bottles that end up in landfills may not completely biodegrade for 450 years. All the while, they’re adding to a toxin problem that has far-reaching effects.
Despite the potential toxicity of the water, you may assume that it’s still a better option than plain tap water. Bottled water companies often use words like “fresh”, “mountain” and “spring” to make you believe that these products are pure and pristine. In truth, in most cases, the water is bottled from similar sources as a public water supply. That’s right— just like tap water. Some companies do not even properly filter the water before bottling it and selling it at maximum profit. Historically, contaminants like microbes, mould and even arsenic have been found in bottled water.
Alternatives to bottled water
With all of this exposed, it’s no wonder that people around the world are taking a stand to put an end to plastic water bottles. Australia has always been at the forefront of this movement: the New South Wales town of Bundanoon voted to become the first town in the world to outlaw bottled water in 2009, instead offering public drinking fountains, filtered water dispensers, and safe, reusable water bottles. Cities, towns, colleges and businesses across the world have followed, eliminating millions of plastic water bottles and joining the march towards a safer, healthier, plastic-free future.
Now that you’re aware of the hazards, what can you do? Thankfully, there is a solution. Aqua Cooler is here for you, with 70 years of experience in providing filtered water solutions to clients all over the world. Based locally in Meadowbrook, Queensland, Aqua Cooler can install a water cooler or drinking fountain in your home or office with cool, convenient and filtered water for your safety and peace of mind. Get in touch with us today and you’ll never have to rely on potentially hazardous plastic water bottles again.