Danger in the bottle

(image source: www.scoopwhoop.com)

Dr Nirmal Jivan Shah, The People Newspaper, 5/7/2009: Just when you thought it was safe to drink bottled water, new research shows that plastic mineral water bottles contaminate drinking water with man made compounds that act like human hormones. The study by German researchers published in the journal Environment Science and Pollution Research provides evidence of estrogen compounds leaching out of the plastic packaging of several commercially available mineral waters into the water.

Twenty brands were examined and the results show that mineral water stored in PET bottles had higher estrogen content than the same water stored in glass bottles. The researchers also raised snails in both plastic and glass bottles. The animals housed in PET bottles had higher reproductive rates than average, and they created more than twice as many embryos as the snails housed in glass bottles. The snails are like a “canary in the coal mine,” and the really scary thing is that they are nowhere as sensitive to these hormones as are human cells.

Bottles made from PET have been considered safer than others made from polyvinyl chloride and polycarbonate (used for sports bottles) which have been shown to release BPA (a disrupter of endocrine function ) when hot water is introduced in them. The researchers conclude that they have identified just the tip of the iceberg in that plastic packaging may be a major source of xenohormone contamination of many other edibles. Xenohormones are man-made substances that have a hormone-like effect.

The conclusion I draw from this study and several others about the dangers of drinking liquids from plastic bottles, is that it’s better to drink what people call “PUC water”. PUC water not only goes through gravel and sand bed filters but is chlorinated to kill microorganisms. Water destined to be bottled is purified using ozone and UV (ultraviolet light). This means that PUC water because it contains chlorine will usually have the same anti-microbial properties at all times, whilst water to be bottled can potentially be contaminated the moment it leaves the filtration process.

Another different property of PUC water is the Ph. This is the measurement of acid and alkaline. Water from our hills is naturally acidic. PUC buffers this water with limestone to achieve a more balanced Ph. This is not done for bottled water. And finally there is the cost. Based on global figures, bottled water costs 240 to 10,000 times that of water straight from the tap. In Seychelles where a liter of bottled water costs on average 7 Rupees up, PUC water costs about 20 cents a liter. Enough said!


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