What do the following people see as a necessity? Avid travelers, sportspersons, diners, joggers, hospital patients, people spending a lot of time on the road like salesmen and professional drivers, and fast food addicts.
Packaged drinking water.
Can you even imagine life without bottled water? Thanks to its widespread availability at every gas station and even the smallest departmental store, it doesn’t take much to (deliberately) leave home without throwing in a water bottle in your backpack.
[Read More: How Long Does A Bottled Water Last]
How do you decide which bottled water to buy?
Although brand goodwill is something most people base their purchase decisions on, what is more important is the materials used to make the packaging.
Tip: Don’t trust brands that don’t describe their packaging material.
Be proactive and take full charge of your health.
As petty and unnecessary as it may seem, you must always check bottle labels to know whether the water your about to trustingly drink is infused with toxic chemicals or not.
We’re talking cancer and hormonal imbalances.
Hazardous cancer-causing or hormone-disrupting chemicals leach out from toxic plastic bottles into your drinking water that (trust me) you definitely don’t want floating around in your body. Aren’t you already freaked out?
Which labels should you avoid?
BPA (Bisphenol A) plastics have been banned in many countries for being guilty of causing hormonal imbalance. It is an endocrine disruptor, which basically means it wreaks havoc in your body.
- PC (polycarbonate): These plastics contain BPA. The math is simple. PC=BPA=harmful. They are complete no-nos. With the bad publicity BPA has already received, most people know it is best to stay away from them and opt for BPA free plastics. The truth, however, is even BPA free plastics (such as those mentioned below) are not safe.
- V or PVC (polyvinyl chloride): These are the most harmful. Phthalates cause hormonal imbalances. Why this random piece of information? Phthalates are often used to make plastics such as PVC more flexible. They must be avoided at all costs.
- PS (polystyrene): Styrenes are potential human carcinogens (read: cancer causing). Long term exposure to small quantities of styrene can adversely impact your nervous system, your platelet and hemoglobin counts, and your DNA.
- PET or PETE (polyethylene terephthalate): These single-use plastics (please note the ‘single use’) contain antimony, a potential cancer-causing chemical. Cleaning detergents and high temperatures can cause leaching of antimony into water held in PET bottles.
So, the three numbers to avoid are 3, 6, and 7.
It comes down to this.
Which plastics are safe?
Look for the codes 2, 4, and 5. These are:
- HDP or HDPE (high-density polyethylene)
- LDPE (low-density polyethylene)
- PP (polypropylene)
There are no known health concerns associated with these. They are the safer kind as they lack BPA, phthalates, and other toxic chemicals. Acknowledge the use of the word ‘safer.’ Do you really want to take that risk? Aren’t you tempted to dash for your plastic bottle collection and vivaciously read the labels under them? (That’s if they’re still there.) Do you feel like you’ve poisoned yourself and your family for years on end?
Okay. Calm down.
Rectification is the way to go.
- Carry your own bottle.
One way to lock-in your safety is by carrying your own reusable water bottle. Here again, you need to ensure your bottle is not made of any of the above mentioned toxic plastics. Rather than being adamant and stuck on safe plastics (‘cause they’re anyway not environment friendly), opt for glass or more durable stainless steel bottles.
- Another, less-of-a-headache solution is to use glasses and water fountains wherever possible.
For how long can you reuse the same bottle?
Surprisingly, not forever.
Phthalates (remember hormone disruptors?) may not be present in toxic concentrations in newly manufactured bottles, however, their concentration increases with the duration of storage.
Also, reusing single-use plastic bottles can cause bacterial buildup. And we all know why that is not good news.
In other words, it is not advisable to reuse such plastics for prolonged periods of time.