When it comes to a healthy drink, nothing competes the benefits of water. This precisely is the reason why everyone carries a water bottle wherever they go. But are our water bottles a health issue? Especially those made from plastic?
Generally they are safe, but it depends on the kind of plastic the bottle is made from. Plastics are made up of long chains of hydrocarbon molecules. Some other chemicals are added to these plastics to give them features such as flexibility or colour.
Buying bottled water
The ‘single use’ water bottles bought at milk bars, service stations are usually made from polyethylene terephthalate (abbreviated to PET or PETE), an inexpensive and lightweight plastic. Its recycling code is 1.
PET is not one of the plastics that one would think has a propensity to cause a problem. Hence for water, bottles made of PET are appropriate to use for storing water.
Know Which Plastics Are Safe?
The plastics are rated in three categories on the basis of their use.
GOOD TO USE
These plastics are known not to leach any chemicals that are suspected of causing cancer or disrupting hormones.
- Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET or PETE).
These are used to make bottles that store soft drink, water, sports drink, ketchup, peanut butter, pickle, jelly and jam jars.
- High density polyethylene (HDPE).
This plastic is used in making bottles that stores milk, water, and juice. They are also used in making yogurt and margarine tubs, cereal box liners, and grocery, trash, and retail bags.
OK TO USE
These are of hazardous nature during production. These plastics are known not to leach any chemicals that are suspected of causing cancer or disrupting hormones. They are not as widely recycled as compared to PET or HDPE.
- Low-density polyethylene (LDPE).
LDPE is used for bread and frozen food bags and squeezable bottles.
- Polypropylene (PP).
It is used for ketchup bottles and yogurt and margarine tubs.
BAD TO USE
These plastics either contain hormone disruptors or human carcinogens. They are likely less recyclable than better plastics.
- Polyvinyl chloride (V or PVC).
Most cling-wrapped meats, cheeses, and other foods sold in delicatessens and groceries are wrapped in PVC.
- Polystyrene (PS).
Foam insulation and also for hard applications (e.g. cups, some toys)
- Other usually polycarbonate.
These are not fit for baby bottles, microwave ovenware, eating utensils and plastic coating for metal cans.
Choosing a bottle
If, you want to stay on the side of caution, it is advisable to avoid consumption of drinks from bottles that have the recycling codes of 3 or 7, particularly for children.
The best bottles to use and reuse are those with the recycling codes 2, 4 and 5. 2 and 4 are made from polyethylene and 5 are made from polypropylene.
But these bottles are expensive to produce; hence their use is mainly done in production of reusable bottles.
PET is likely to be the plastic of choice for single-use bottles. These are highly used by certain mineral water suppliers for bottling the water.
Another thumb rule is to use transparent and clear plastic instead of coloured or opaque because they eliminate the potential risks from colouring agents added to the plastic.