Bottled Water - Health Problems and Concerns
by Stan Politi
be clear plastic - because that is what consumers prefer - is a problem of another
sort. Recycled plastics usually have small amounts of dyes from their previous life.
That means, to make a clear plastic water bottle, you have to start with new plastic.
Cleaning recycled plastic to an acceptable level is cost prohibitive. So every bottle
you grab started out as oil extracted from the ground.
While starting with pure PET keeps the bottle looking good, it doesn't solve other
problems. Plastics contain other chemicals used to alter their properties - changing
the stiffness or keeping them resistant to breakdown from light. For PET water
bottles, chemical additives can leach into the water. Other contaminants end up in
the plastic as a result of the high temperatures used to melt and shape the bottles.
Two Main Contaminants
Antimony is a heavy metal used as a catalyst in PET plastics - including water bottles.
It is used as Antimony Trioxide in small amounts to help the plastic form the proper
cross-links. The disturbing thing is that the metal ends up in the final product.
Migration is the technical term for movement of chemicals from the container to the
foodstuff inside. It happens with many products, and it happens with PET plastics and
bottled water. Manufacturers do test to see how much ends up in the water, but
there is no clear 'safe level'.
Another contaminant, acetaldehyde comes from the manufacturing process.
Manufacturers are aware of this one too. In the case of acetaldehyde though, it the
concern isn't so much about poisoning, it's about taste. Humans can taste
acetaldehyde at concentrations as low as 10 parts per billion. It has a disagreeable
taste and odor. In other products, this defect is hidden by the taste of the product -
a little sugar or artificial flavoring can hide it. But this doesn't work with water. You
can't convince people they are drinking clean, safe, healthy water if it reeks of a
Acetaldehyde isn't added to the plastic on purpose, it comes from degradation of the
PET during manufacturing. Overheating or over-stretching the plastic when it is
shaped into a bottle creates this contaminant. Properly adjusting machinery will
reduce it, but some will always form. If you've ever seen a white, cloudy patch in
otherwise clear PET, it is likely a result of acetaldehyde and problems with the
Other Costs of Bottled Water
Disposal of PET water bottles is an issue. Only about 25% of the bottles ever get into
the recycling stream. Most end up in landfills. Since approximately 50 billion water
bottles are purchased in the United States every year, the numbers mount up.
Transportation is another cost, both in economic terms and because of the
associated pollution. Tap water is transported a relatively short distance through
pipes. Bottled water, on the other hand, is packaged individually and in case and
pallet lots, then stored, then shipped (sometimes thousands of miles from the
bottling location), then refrigerated, then bagged up and transported home by the
The final result of all the movement, fuss, and costs is a thirsty person with a bottle
of water... a person who is probably within a yard or two from something just as
good (or bad!) - tap water. From a cost benefit point of view, the whole idea is
insane. We add to the price of an everyday item strictly for style reasons. All the fuss
and bother results in a much higher price for something you've probably already paid
for that takes less effort to get - turning a tap instead of unscrewing a top.
In the end, the biggest problem with bottled water might be the label - a label so
attractive that we willingly spend a hundred times what we should for something we
About The Author
I started taking an antioxidant juice in March of 2009 which turned my life around.
My poor health rebounded and gave me a new found consciousness about health
and healing, longevity, free radicals, antioxidants, antioxidant supplements and living
a healthy lifestyle. So much so that I decided to build a website to help others:
The problems with bottled water start
with the bottle. Even if the water
were as pure as possible when it was
put inside, the bottle itself is a
wonderful product of modern
chemical manufacturing. Why plastic
in the first place? It's cheaper and
lighter in weight than glass. Lighter
weight means lower shipping costs.
The plastic is Polyethylene
terephthalate (PET). This is the same
plastic used in carpet fibers and in
polyester clothing. Of course, for use
in bottles, it isn't dyed.
The fact that water bottles have to
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