Look around you and you’ll see cyclists, joggers and pedestrians who would once have been seen clutching plastic bottles of water now holding stainless steel and paper containers instead.
Drink to your health? Research has shown that harmful compounds can leach from plastics into the food and drinks that we consume. So, what exactly do these people know that you don’t?
Drinking from a plastic water bottle likely means ingesting microplastic particles, a new study claims, prompting fresh concerns — and calls for scientific research — on the possible health implications of widespread plastics pollution.
Read More: THE FUTURE IN HAIR LOSS TREATMENTS
A study carried out on more than 250 water bottles sourced from 11 brands in nine different countries revealed that Microplastic contamination was nearly universal, found in more than 90% of the samples.
The study, by journalism organization Orb Media and researchers at the State University of New York at Fredonia, found an average of 10.4 microplastic particles about the width of a human hair per liter. In the case of bottled water, Orb’s new study indicated contamination was partly the result of plastic packaging, and partly the fault of the bottling process. The survey included brands like Aquafina, Dasani, Evian, Nestlé and San Pellegrino.
It’s unclear what effect, if any, this consumption of tiny bits of plastics has on human health. As much as 90% of ingested plastic could pass through a human body, but some of it may end up lodged in the gut, or traveling through the lymphatic system, according to research by the European Food Safety Authority.
Read More: Will This Be The End of Dry Skin?
During the past five years, public awareness has slowly grown over concerns about compounds in some plastic bottles and food containers. The compounds on which most concerns have focused are Bisphenol A (known as BPA), which is used in tough polycarbonate products and epoxy resins that line tin cans, and a group of plastic softeners called phthalates.
Research has shown that these compounds can leach from plastics into the food and drinks that we consume – more so if they are heated to high temperatures, raising additional concerns about the kinds of plastics that are used as containers in microwave ovens.
One of the biggest concerns about BPA and phthalates is that they act as what scientists call ‘environmental oestrogens’, so-called because they mimic the hormone in our bodies. Minuscule amounts can make an impact and many studies have found evidence that they affect the development of foetuses in the womb.
Read More: Are We Becoming Beauty Clones?
Scientists say that environmental oestrogen can act as an ‘endocrine disrupter’, which means it can affect sexual development, leading to breast, prostate and testicular cancer, reduced levels of fertility, and undescended testes. In polluted rivers, it has lead to fish and molluscs actually changing sex from male to female. The problem is that not all studies have found evidence of this at all, leaving this association controversial. That said, the controversy has been enough for us to consider our water vessels more carefully and has led to reusable, sturdy water bottles becoming as much of a fashion accessory as the latest Nike Frees or this season’s ‘IT’ bag.
Read More: Best Micellar Waters: A Review
While scientists continue to debate over the association between plastics and BPA, one fact that has been proven in tests in several developed countries, including Denmark and Israel— male fertility rates have fallen by about a half and rates of testicular cancer have soared since the use of plastics became widespread after World War II. Is this a coincidence, or cause and effect?
If you don’t want to take any chances, look for a good water bottle made without BPA. What all these reusable bottles have in common is they are BPA-free and give you the chance to find your perfect water partner for your needs; whether it’s for your gym bag, desk, car or physical pursuits.
- H2Onya, £10.50. A sturdy steel design that makes it ideal if it’s likely to be bashed around in your daily pursuits.
- bKR original glass water bottle , USD$35
- SIGG bottles, from USD$15