Jul 31

Is Your Water Bottle Really BPA Free?

Think your Water Bottle is “BPA Free”? Better double check.

JULY 14, 2011

By Margot Pagan, EWG Summer Press Intern

Is your reusable water bottle aluminum? In an effort to be more sustainable and protect my health, I made the switch from plastic water bottles to my reliable metal bottle that I carry with me every day. I thought this switch was a positive change, which is why I’m a little concerned to read headlines that “Metal Water Bottles May Leach BPA.” Just when I thought I was doing something good for my health and the environment, I learn otherwise. Just my luck!
Aluminum water bottles aren’t just aluminum

The issue is that some aluminum water bottles aren’t just aluminum – they’re lined with a resin meant to prevent that bad aluminum taste in your water. Problem is, the resin is epoxy, and epoxy is made with bisphenol A, or BPA, which is a synthetic estrogen. The epoxy molecule is unstable. It comes apart and releases BPA readily into whatever it touches.

This new study from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine has discovered that switching from polycarbonate to aluminum might not protect you from BPA exposure as well as you thought. Keep in mind – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has called for parents to take action to reduce their children’s exposure to BPA. The chemical isn’t healthy for any age group: it is linked to an alarming list of health conditions – breast and prostate cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

The study found that epoxy-lined aluminum bottles (including older SIGG bottles) leached BPA. But SIGG’s new linings, made of a synthetic the company calls Ecocare did not emit the troublesome chemical. Stainless steel bottles, which are unlined, were also free of BPA.

BPA is an essential ingredient of polycarbonate, a hard, clear plastic ideal for safety glasses, safety helmets and computer and cell phone houses. Until a few years ago, Nalgene water bottles were made of polycarbonate. Like epoxy, polycarbonate is unstable and, experiments show, readily leaches BPA into surrounded liquids, even cold water. Nalgene, Camelbak and some other sports bottle makers moved to a non-BPA-based plastic called Tritan. The University of Cincinnati study found bottles made with Tritan did not emit BPA.

BPA leaching by the “worst” water bottles is still less than the amount you’d get from a serving of most canned foods but still important to consider since exposures add up.

The study also examined the effects of BPA on heart muscle cells and found that increasing exposure to this estrogen-like chemical can result in potentially deadly heart arrhythmias in rodents. This finding leads the group to suggest that heart arrhythmias could be an issue for women specifically, because they already have natural estrogen in their bodies.

Does the Claim “BPA Free” Mean Anything?

“BPA free” is not a defined and consistent term, noted the study’s author Scott Belcher in an interview with Science News. For “BPA free” to have a useful meaning for consumers there should be regulations to limit its use, Belcher said.

Legislation to control BPA in food containers, especially those made for infants and children, is making its way through lawmaking bodies, with varying degrees of success.

In Maine, a bill to remove BPA from children’s products became law without the signature of Gov. Paul LePage. Now Maine’s Environmental Health Strategy Center is accusing LePage of foot-dragging and has petitioned the state Attorney General to force LePage to put the law into effect. LePage is famed for declaring that BPA is harmless, except that “some women may have little beards” if exposed to the chemical. (LePage confused it with another sex hormone, testosterone).

Meanwhile, in California, the state assembly is moving the Toxin-Free Infants and Toddlers Act, which would bar BPA in bottles or cups intended for infants or children three years of age or younger.

So what should you do to protect your health?

– Buy a glass or stainless steel bottle without an epoxy liner.

– Examine the inside of a bottle. A golden-orange coating indicates a material that can shed BPA, while a white coating doesn’t. Contact the manufacturer to see if it has tested its product for BPA leaching.

– Don’t put hot liquids in your water bottles.

Remember, BPA is most harmful during pregnancy and early childhood. Pregnant women, babies and children should take extra efforts to avoid BPA. Check out what EWG has been saying about kid-size Klean Kanteen bottles.
Buying a water bottle might seem like a simple purchase (it should be, right?), but doing your BPA research before you buy could grant you peace of mind that your bottle isn’t leaching BPA.

Jun 22

Dire forecast of marine life catastrophe – San Francisco Chronicle

The world’s oceans are degenerating far faster than predicted and marine life is facing extinction due to a range of human impacts – from overfishing to climate change – a report compiled by international scientists warned Tuesday.

The cumulative impact of “severe individual stresses,” ranging from climate warming and sea-water acidification to widespread chemical pollution and overfishing, would threaten the marine environment with a catastrophe “unprecedented in human history.”

The conclusions were published by a panel of international scientists who reviewed recent research at a workshop at Oxford University in Britain. They will be presented to the United Nations in New York this week for discussions on reforming governance of the oceans.

The report warned that damage to marine life would harm its ability to support humans, and that entire ecosystems, such as coral reefs, could be lost in a generation. Coral deaths alone would be considered a mass extinction, according to study chief author Alex Rogers of Oxford University. A single bleaching event in 1998 killed one-sixth of the world’s tropical coral reefs.

Carl Lundin, director of global marine programs at the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which helped produce the report with the International Program on the State of the Ocean, pointed to deaths of 1,000-year-old coral in the Indian Ocean and called the situation “really unprecedented.”

Chemicals and plastics from daily life are also causing problems for sea creatures, the report said. Overall, the world’s oceans just can’t bounce back from problems – such as oil spills – as they used to, scientists said.

“Unless action is taken now, the consequences of our activities are at a high risk of causing, through the combined effects of climate change, overexploitation, pollution and habitat loss, the next globally significant extinction event in the ocean,” it said.

The marine scientists called for a range of urgent measures to cut carbon emissions, reduce overfishing, shut unsustainable fisheries, create protected areas in the seas and cut pollution.

“As we considered the cumulative effect of what humankind does to the ocean, the implications became far worse than we had individually realized,” Rogers said. “This is a very serious situation demanding unequivocal action at every level.”

A separate study released Monday provided the most detailed look yet of sea level rise from global warming. It found the world’s oceans have been rising significantly over the past century. The yearly rise is slightly less than one-tenth of an inch, but it adds up over decades. That study was published in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This article appeared on page A – 4 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Jun 22

“Tapped” The Movie – Review

Last year, one of the most important films of our time was made. The film “Tapped” has opened my eyes to the damaging effects that plastic has on our environment and the bottled water companies control of our water. Take the time to see this documentary and pass it on to everyone you know.

“If you eliminate the scourge of bottled water, you will be eliminating one of the biggest problems facing our environment”. —Charles Moore, founder, Algalita, and discoverer of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Tapped is a condemnation of one of the most ubiquitous acts of consumption today, the purchase of bottled water. The scathing new documentary reveals a litany of damaging effects as it follows this environmental scourge from production to “disposal,” including the Pacific Ocean’s floating continents of plastic debris twice the size of the continental United States.

This documentary also examines the role of the bottled water industry and its effects on our health, climate change, pollution, and our reliance on oil.

Along the way, the directors demonstrate how corporate greed combines with a lack of government oversight to allow bottled-water giants Coke and Pepsi to continue bottling water during recent droughts in Georgia and North Carolina, and encasing it in cancer-causing chemicals.

Watch the trailer:

 

Jun 22

Water Bottle Facts

Too Many Bottles-It is a Waste

  • Single-serve bottled water is the fastest growing beverage of choice in the United States.
  • Americans purchased nearly 31 billion bottles of water in 2006 and spend $11 billion on bottled water every year.
  • Nearly 2.5 billion bottles of water a year are sold in New York alone-stacked up end to end, they’d reach the moon.

It’s a Waste of Money

  • Tap water creates less pollution and uses far less energy and natural resources than transporting and manufacturing of plastic water bottles.
  • Bottled water costs as much as $10 per gallon-tap water costs less than one cent per gallon.
  • Nationally, local governments spend $43 billion per year to deliver some of the highest quality water in the world.
  • In New York, we spend $2 billion per year to provide safe, clean drinking water to the public.

It’s a Waste of Plastic

  • Unlike soda and other carbonated beverages, there is no deposit on water bottles so fewer are recycled.
  • Nationally, only 10% of plastic water bottles are recycled-90% end up as either garbage or litter.
  • 30 million single-serve non-returnable containers end up in landfills or as litter every day.
  • We spend millions annually to clean up plastic bottles that litter our highways, parks and open spaces.

It’s a Waste of Energy

  • 18 million barrels of crude oil equivalent were consumed in 2005 to replace the 2 million tons of plastic bottles that were wasted instead of recycled.
  • Manufacturing that much plastic releases more than 800,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, contributing to global climate change.
  • If we recycled the water bottles used in New York, we would save more than 67,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases.
  • In New York, the oil used to make our bottles is equal to 66 million gallons of gasoline; enough to power 120,000 automobiles for a year.

Taking Action

  • Since New York adopted the bottle bill in 1982, 90.6 billion beverage containers have been recycled. Roadside container litter has been reduced over 70%.
  • San Francisco and Los Angeles have banned city departments from buying bottled water. Ann Arbor, Michigan is calling for city events to be bottled water free. Salt Lake City urges city workers not to buy bottled water. Maine, Hawaii, California and Oregon have deposit laws that include bottled water.

What You Can Do

  • Recycle or return all of your beverage containers.
  • Pick up bottles along the road or sidewalk and recycle them.
  • Drink tap water-it’s better for the environment, even using a filter is cheaper than buying bottles.
  • Get involved-help start a recycling program at school, work and sporting events.
  • Buy and refill reusable bottles.
  • Learn more about your local recycling program.