Do you reuse disposable water bottles? Probably yes. When you buy a bottle of water, you are probably thinking that this is not the most environmentally-friendly choice you made today, but you will be able to reuse it instead of buying another water bottle.
Plastic does not do any good for our environment but you probably think that reusing water bottles is a form of recycling, right? Well, that’s not the best way to recycle. Multiple studies have proved that reusing water bottles has some health risks and you should avoid it as much as possible.
You probably already heard the story about disposable water bottles and chemicals that can be harmful to your health. The good news is that this is a myth. It’s unfounded that reusing plastic water bottles is harmful because they leach chemicals into your fresh water. In 2014, this myth was widespread and circulated via emails saying that reused water bottles contain DEHA which is potentially carcinogen substance. Commercial water bottles and food containers for that matter are made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) which does not contain DEHA. Even if it does contain DEHA, the substance is not considered to be a carcinogen. According to the American Chemistry Council, PET was tested to make sure it doesn’t contain anything that could be harmful or anything that can transfer something harmful from plastic to the content of the bottle or container.
So, this myth is completely debunked but now we are left with more questions. If harmful chemicals are not something we should worry about when reusing water bottles, what should we worry about? We should worry about bacteria! When left unwashed, the reused water bottle will contain harmful microbes. According to a study from 2002 published in the Canadian Journal of Public Health, 65% of students from elementary schools had water bottles which contained bacteria at the level that completely exceeded health guidelines. Disposable water bottles are especially the best place for these bacteria. The main reason behind this is that water bottles tend to break down and that will leave room for bacteria to stay even if a water bottle is washed. The authors of an article published in the Practical Gastroenterology said:
“… everyday wear and tear from repeated washings and reuse can lead to the physical breakdown of the plastic, such as visible thinning or cracks. Bacteria can harbor in the cracks, posing a health risk.”
Maybe you can buy a reusable plastic water bottle? That’s still not a solution, there are still bacteria that can easily be found in any reusable plastic bottle. The chemical called bisphenol A or better known as BPA. This chemical is considered to be endocrine disruptor or chemical that interferes with hormones in your body. According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences:
“some concern for effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and children at current human exposures to bisphenol A.”
We need to conduct more research, however, in the meantime, it’s the best thing to avoid reusing water bottles. BPA can lurk in polycarbonate plastic which is more often found in plastic water bottles.
The best thing is to avoid plastic water bottles altogether and go for some other material. That’s the best choice for yourself and the environment. The best choice is glass water bottles which can resist bacterial growth and it’s easily washed in a dishwasher without any worry that you will damage your water bottle. If you are trying to stay healthy, drinking plenty of water is the most important thing, but just make sure that the water is not full of harmful bacteria.