By Michael Kabel
Environmental Defense Fund Food and Drug Administration
Keeping hydrated is the simplest truth about staying healthy, but can those plastic water bottles also put your health at risk? Lingering questions and uncertainty continue on this vital wellness issue.
The ABC’s of BPA
Bisphenol-A (BPA) is an industrial chemical and the main component of polycarbonate, the clear and hard plastic used in making water bottles and thousands of other food and drink packages. BPA linings are also commonly used on water pipes and on the inside of soft drink cans.
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In 2010, the US Food and Drug Administration expressed concern that products including BPA could expose pregnant women, babies and small children to increased risk of cancer and diabetes. In 2014, the agency revised its position stating that current levels of BPA use in food posed no significant health risk.
However, some public welfare advocates such as the nonprofit Environmental Defense Fund caution that BPA is often replaced in manufacturing with even more dangerous chemicals including carcinogens and neurotoxins. Other studies indicate that BPA damages the body’s endocrine system, which creates and regulates hormones, including estrogen.
Health care experts recommend using BPA-free water bottles, and avoiding canned goods that use BPA lining. BPA-containing packages are identified by the triangle of arrows with the number 7 inside it. The Oregon Environmental Council has developed a “BPA Free” designation awarded to qualifying products.
Choosing the Safest Water Bottle
Many health experts point to glass as the safest material for water bottles. However, make sure that BPA is not used in the lining. For durability, most glass water bottles are equipped with a sleeve of silicone or other shock-absorbing material.