I received this warning in an email (see below) and decided to do a google search to see what the science was behind the note.
RE: Bottled Water – don’t buy any bottled water which is piled up in the sun at grocery stores, such as Save-On-Foods who love to pile their bottled water up in front of the store where the sun beats on it all day long. The sun on the plastic causes the plastic to release dioxins into the water – that’s poison – (same stuff they use at pulp mills, etc.) Bottled water should be kept in a cool, shaded area at all times. So don’t buy bottled water that has been exposed to the sun or heat. Please pass this on.
What I first found was a freezing bottle water hoax, and the following clear statement: “This is an urban legend. There are no dioxins in plastics.” If there are no dioxins in plastics there are no dioxins to be released by heat or other means.
Other problematic chemicals
However what can be released by heat are phthalates:
… there is another group of chemicals, (phthalates) that are sometimes added to plastics to make them flexible and less brittle. These environmental contaminants can exhibit hormone-like behavior by acting as endocrine disruptors in humans and animals. If you heat up plastics, you could increase the leaching of phthalates from the containers into water and food.
Searching a bit more I also found a recent study by William Shotyk, a Canadian scientist who warned that another chemical by the name of antimony (amongst others)is released in the water just by sitting in the bottle over time.
The research, by a Canadian scientist now working in Germany, involved 132 brands of bottled water from 28 countries produced in containers made from polyethylene terephthalate, or PET. About 20 brands came from Canada. In a paper to be published early next year, William Shotyk of the University of Heidelberg found that the concentration of certain chemicals, such as antimony, increases the longer the water sits in the plastic bottle. Shotyk’s study measured concentrations for a period of up to six months.
Moreover, it seems not only chemicals are problematic but microbial contamination:
Clarke and other water activists are quick to point to the NRDC report. This four-year study tested more than 1,000 bottles of 103 brands of bottled water and concluded that “about one-third of the waters tested contained levels of contamination – including synthetic organic chemicals, bacteria, and arsenic,” and that bottled water “is not necessarily cleaner or safer than most tap water.”
Government studies versus industry studies
Further traces of plastic are reported by a Virginia Education Gastro-nutrition newsletter. They talk about BPAs or bisphenol A which that has been linked to chromosomal abnormalities in mice. Studies about the migration of BPA to food and drink show differences when contrasting industry and government studies. The latter show significant effects, while industry continue to report “trace amounts, not attributable to a health risk” therefore still inconclusive. Industry has much to lose when they have become a multibillion dollar industry:
According to the Canadian Bottled Water Association, Canada sucked up 1.9 billion litres from bottles in 2005, the industry gathering $653-million in revenue, up more than $100-million from the previous year. (That’s a small fraction of the multibillion-dollar global market.)
Privatization of water resources
Another issue that is also directly linked to the bottled water phenomenon is how it is setting up a favourable situation for the privatization (make money!!!) of our water resources.
“By creating a consumer culture through bottled water you set the stage for people to accept and promote the privatization of water services,” says Clarke. “It helps to have those water privateers directly engaged in the bottled water portion of things to start to facilitate that kind of development.”
Plastic bottle pollution
Well, from incorrect information and what could have been a hoax or urban myth has led to finding a slew of problems related to bottled water, including and I leave you with the images of empty plastic bottles that are now visual and environmental pollutants lining every kilometre of our planet. Important and urgent changes are needed in our consumer habits.