There is no liquid on earth that can satisfy your thirst as good as a bottle of water. The importance and benefits of staying hydrated are known to all of us. This liquid that is abundantly present on earth is essential for our survival. We carry a bottle of water with us wherever we go to quench our thirst. Bottled water is also available almost in every place for it makes it easier to access. But did you know all this ease is making us fall sick?
The Disposable and Reusable Water Bottles
There are majorly 2 types of plastic bottles we use every day. The disposable ones can be recognized by identifying a triangle on the bottom of the bottle with number 1 written within it. Most water bottles, juice, and soda we buy are packaged in these bottles and are for one-time use before recycling. These are made from PET plastic. Reusable water bottles also come in plastic and are comparatively sturdier. These are food grade plastics that have number 2,3 and 5 written. They are usually named fridge bottles and can be reused. And finally, the ones marked number 3 and 7 may contain BPA or bisphenol.
Discussing disposable bottles which we tend to refill at homes in spite of being a one time use bottle, a journal article from 2007 states that consumers using disposable bottle repeatedly will mean that they are exposing themselves to various health risks. These bottles are made of plastic that tend to break down eventually with wear and tear and this cause cracks and thinning. These cracks become the hub of microbial growth due to the moisture which can cause serious contamination. The risk of breeding increases in bottles that contain sugar in them like in case of sports drink or soda bottles. The bacteria and fungus come from the air or your mouth or even your hands and begin to multiply under warm conditions causing problems such as diarrhea and food poisoning.
While we may argue saying that most of us tend to use reusable plastic bottles, research states they are no better. Reusable bottles also have serious issues related to contamination. We tend to forget to wash the bottles regularly which will become a breeding ground for microbes. In fact, research says that the risk of bacterial contamination is higher than a chemical contamination while using these reusable bottles.
A study by Treadmill reviews tested the water bottles used by athletes for over a week. The results were shocking and disgusting with a bacterial count of over 9,00,000 colony-forming units per square centimeter on an average out of which over 60% were disease-causing bacteria which were found on these bottles. This is more than the number of bacteria you will find on a toilet seat.
The study also helped understand the different types of bottles which are more prone to bacterial growth. With slide top bottles ranking the worst with 9,00,000CFU/sq cm, squeeze top and screw top bottles stand second and third. These bottles showed growth of harmful microbes near the opening and neck. The best of the evil turned out to be straw-top bottles which still housed over 25 CFU/sq cm whereas an average toilet seat will only house 2 CFU/sq cm.
Apart from the microbes, chemical compounds used to manufacture these bottles can have adverse effects on our body. Dr. Marilyn Glenville had shared with Good Housekeeping UK how these chemicals can lead to problems in ovulation, hormonal issues such as PCOS and even breast cancer. BPA present, especially in reusable plastics, has been a controversial chemical as few studies have suggested that there is a possibility that it might migrate into the drink and interfere with the sex hormones in our body.
Plastic bottles also have a drastic effect on the environment. These have been the major contributors to landfills causing harm to the quality of the soil. The degradation process of the material will take centuries and it, directly and indirectly, causes the release of harmful chemicals to enter the natural resources such as water, soil etc,
What can we do to fix this?
Reusing is essential as otherwise, the hike in the production of plastic bottles will be putting our environmental health at stake. Recycling is a great option to work with when we discuss plastic bottles. Exploring ways to get our bottles recycled is a great option as this will prevent them from piling up in landfills. But this is not as economical as buying a bottle every day.
With respect to reusable bottles washing it regularly with soap and mild warm water is necessary which can make it comparatively safer. Also, sanitizing them once in a while can be very helpful. It is important to check if there has been any physical breakdown caused due to the temperature before using the bottles to be safe from any chemical contamination. Plastics graded with 2,4 and 5 are comparatively safe to use.
But the best options will be to explore various other materials that are being used to make bottles for our everyday use. Stainless steel bottles or Glass Laboratory Bottle are great alternatives to using plastic reusable or disposable bottles as the risk of chemical contamination is lower here. Also, these materials make the cleaning process easier and more efficient as compared to the use of plastic bottles. Lightweight aluminum bottles are also available although there is a possibility that they contain BPA.
It is almost close to impossible to completely eliminate the use of plastic bottles. But making an informed decision on the type of plastic being used can also be a great way to stay healthy. It is recommended to look for BPF free bottles or polypropylene bottles which are usually white plastic. They are the non-reactive types of plastic which are used in labs and will solve the chemical contamination issues, although the microbial growth can only be controlled with proper and regular cleaning. It is important to note that white plastic bottles are not completely safe either as there might be other chemicals used during manufacturing that might be causing harm to your body.
Water is important to live a healthy life. But plastics that cause the quality of water to degrade may be a serious health threat. Watch where you drink from for a healthy life.