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Which water bottles are safe?

Updated on March 12, 2011

The recycling triangle has a number in its center. Avoid plastics labeled #3, #6, and #7. Numbers 2, 4, and 5 are safe. The ubiquitous hand-held bottles that pre-packaged water comes in is #1. They are safe but recommended for single-use only. The best choice in terms of safety and eco-friendliness is to use metal reusable water bottles where refill it with your beverage of choice. If you prefer plastic sports water bottle, pick one that does not contain BPA.

BPA is bad

Some plastics (such as some plastics with number 7) may leach BPA.

According to the article "Which plastic water bottles don't leach chemicals?", BPA stands for Bisphenol A and is an endocrine disruptor and is "linked to breast cancer and uterine cancer in women, decreased testosterone levels in men, and are particularly devastating to babies and young children". It can mimic the body's own hormones; and as such, even small amounts can have a effect.  BPA is bad enough that Europe has banned its use in baby products.

Most hand-held bottled water comes in polyethylene terephthalate plastic (PETE) and has the number #1 in the center of the recycling triangle. These are recommended for single-use only.

Plastics labeled #2 HDPE (high density polyethylene), or a #4 LDPE (low density polyethylene), or a #5 PP (polypropylene) are considered safe.

Some reusable sports water bottle are of type #7 which is not good. According to this TreeHugger.com article, you should replace it with Sigg, Klean Kanteen, or CamelBak.

Bottles Without BPA

Sigg bottles are Swiss-engineered extruded from a single piece of aluminum with an non-toxic inner lining that is resistant to leaching. There are many stylish colors and patterns to choose from.

Klean Kanteen is made from food grade stainless steel. Therefore they do not need an inner lining. Like the Sigg, they are completely BPA free and does not leech.

If you prefer plastic over metal bottles, then use the CamelBak bottles. They are BPA-free, so they do not have the health concerns of other plastic bottles that contains BPA.

Nalgene is coming out with new lines of BPA-free products which are safe. The Tritan, ultralite HDPE, fitness LDPE, stainless steel, and others lines are BPA-free. See comparison chart. As you recall, HDPE and LDPE are high-density and low-density polyethylene (number #2 and #4) and are considered safe plastics.

What Dr. Chopra Says About Plastic Bottles

In his book Doctor Chopra Says: Medical Facts & Myths Everyone Should Know, he says ...

"While there is no conclusive evidence that BPA poses any threat to human beings, until this controversy is settled scientifically you might choose to take certain sensible precautions." [page 371]

These he says includes avoiding bottles with the numbers 3, 6, or 7 in the recycling triangle. And never microwave plastic bottle or container with liquids or foods.

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