Are Plastic Water Bottles Safe?

This is a guest post by healthy lifestyle crusader and writer Bonnie Penner. Thanks for sharing this important information Bonnie!

Which Plastic Water Bottles Don't Leach Chemicals?

Choose your water bottles very carefully in order to prevent chemicals in the plastic from leaching into your water. Plastic water bottles are very convenient for carting water around when we are on the go, as they don't break if we drop them. However, it is worth paying attention to the type of plastic your water bottle is made of, to ensure that the chemicals in the plastic do not leach into the water. If you taste plastic, you are drinking it, so get yourself another bottle.

All plastic water bottles leach, some are better than others though. To be certain that you are choosing a bottle that leaches less, check the recycling symbol on the bottom of your bottle. If it is a #2 HDPE (high density polyethylene), or a #4 LDPE (low density polyethylene), or a #5 PP (polypropylene) it will leach less and is less toxic.

If your bottle has a #1 PETE (polyethylene terephthalate), #3 V (v-vinyl/polyvinyl), #6 PS (polystyrene), or #7 PC (polycarbonate) it will leach more chemicals and thus be more harmful to you.

Okay let me simplify it for you. If you must use plastic (which we all do sometimes) choose from the less leaching plastics:

Less Leaching Plastic: #2, 4, & 5

More Leaching Plastic: #1, 3, 6, & 7

The type of plastic bottle in which water is usually sold at stores is a #1, and is only recommended for one time use. Do not refill it. They recommend this because the older the #1 bottle, the more it leaches chemicals. Better to use a reusable water bottle, and fill it with your own filtered water from home and keep these single-use bottles out of the landfill.

The Problem: Those fabulous colourful hard plastic lexan bottles made with polycarbonate plastics and identified by the #7 recycling symbol, may leach BPA (Bisphenol A). This is where the confusion begins. Many folks assume that because it doesn't impart flavour to the liquid it holds that it's safer than other types of plastic bottles. Research findings show otherwise.

Bisphenol A is a xenoestrogen, a known endocrine disruptor. Xenoestrogens disturb the hormonal messaging in our bodies. Synthetic xenoestrogens are linked to breast cancer and uterine cancer in women, decreased testosterone levels in men, and are particularly devastating to babies and young children. BPA has even been linked to insulin resistance and Type 2 Diabetes. For more of the science on the effects of BPA on our endocrine system etc. see these studies: Environmental Health Perspectives Journal

Lexan polycarbonate resin (#7 plastic), a plastic polymer accidentally developed by General Electric in 1953, was and still is a revolutionary material. It's been used in a variety of products over the last four decades including compact discs and DVDs, bullet-proof windows, mobile phones, computers, baby bottles and water bottles.

BPA can be leached into the water bottles contents through normal wear and tear, exposure to heat and cleaning agents. This includes leaving your plastic water bottle in your hot car during errands, in your back pack during hikes, running it through your dishwasher and using harsh detergents. It is my opinion, that the best thing to do is to avoid plastic altogether, or at the very least minimize its use in your life, and family's life.

Unfortunately, most plastic baby bottles and drinking cups are made with plastics containing Bisphenol A. In 2006 Europe banned all products made for children under age 3 containing BPA, and as of Dec. 2006 the city of San Francisco followed suit. In March 2007 a billion-dollar class action suit was commenced against Gerber, Playtex, Evenflo, Avent, and Dr. Brown's in Los Angeles superior court for harm done to babies caused by drinking out of baby bottles and sippy cups containing BPA.

The Solution: There are two approaches to take to avoid exposure to BPA. First, if you are active and take water with you, switch to a stainless steel water bottle. But, be careful. Many products on the market are lined with an epoxy finish. This defeats the purpose. Make sure that the bottle is stainless steel both inside and out. Stainless steel water bottles are light, durable and hold both hot and cold liquids well. I personally purchased stainless steel water bottles for my whole family. The brand I researched and purchased is called Klean Kanteen. Check out the link to get info from the company. I personally called them myself and asked about using things like apple juice in them (as it is highly acidic and leaches containers even more). They assured me that they have tested their bottles and they are completely non-leaching.

The second approach is to reuse glass containers such as quart sized juice bottles. Yes, they are a bit heavier but are good solutions if you're in an office environment where mobility isn't an issue. I personally use glass when at home, and I make sure that I purchase acidic products like tomato sauce, and vinegar in glass containers and not plastic.

Check the recycling numbers on all your plastic food containers as well, and gradually move to storing all food in glass or ceramic. Plastic leaches more when you heat it or freeze it.

Now in closing, and I won't go into detail, but I will ask a question and let you think of the implications. (For those in my email group, you are aware that I don't like microwave ovens.) What do you now think of using plastic in your microwave oven to heat up your food???!!!

One last note, there are some #7 plastics that do not contain polycarbonate and thus are said to be less leaching, but you would need to contact the makers of these plastics to find out for sure. As a general rule most #7 plastics contain polycarbonates.

Please feel free to send this article to anyone you think would appreciate it. Hope you all find this info helpful.

~ Bonnie Penner

Related Links:

Life Without Plastic
Environmental Health News: BPA
Get Plastic Out Of Your Diet

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oooh, hot topic over

oooh, hot topic over here!

word on the street is that if the bottle is squeezable, there is no BPA. Also, jury is still out on effects of BPA from independent lab for at least another couple of months

In the meantime, mostly trying to get water from tap water in glass :)


I'm with you regarding tap

I'm with you regarding tap water in a glass. As for plastic bottles (soft or hard), I'm avoiding them whenever possible. Curious about what the newer studies are saying though - please keep us updated.

Looking forward to a new stainless steel bottle that's coming in the mail :-)


here is a link that goes to the hot water bottle issue:


Thanks Dave. According to

Thanks Dave. According to this study, putting hot water into your plastic (polycarbonate) bottles leaches a lot more BPA. Quote from researcher sums it up:

"I can tell you what I've done. I've tried to eliminate polycarbonate as much as I can.… I'm not recommending for myself or others to throw their hot tea in these or throw them in a microwave to make hot cocoa before they go skiing."

BFA free water bottle

We,Haoyumug Industry CO.,LTD, are the BFA free stainless steel water bottle manufacturer in China .We provide same quality water bottles as Klean Kanteen ,but much cheaper price .If you have interest kindly contact wih us

Would those cheap Chinese

Would those cheap Chinese made steel bottles you're promoting be free of lead paint?
I'm thinking I'll be sticking with using glassware or some food grade steel bottles made here domestically in the USA under strict manufacturing standards (something CHINA does NOT seem to have) just to be safe. Cost of a water container is not a major concern where the preservation of the health of my family is involved.

This is scary... my advice,

This is scary... my advice, avoid water altogether!

Another great article on

Another great article on BPA, where it is, and how to minimize your exposure here. (You'll read that manufactures line canned food with the stuff! As well, they say "Soft or cloudy-colored plastic does not contain BPA.")

Some recent news: Congress investigates science-for-hire over BPA

Still a hot topic

Seems like this is still a hot topic! The Globe & Mail is running a feature story called "The anti-plastic backlash" today on their website. 

don't risk your life with plastics

I wouldn't risk my families health with unsafe plastic bottles besides plastic comes from oil. We need to reduces our oil usage. Switch to a metal Laken or SIGG bottle. I got a few at I love them.

plastic bottles

My son is a Special Olympian.. He has a water bottle,(made in china), it is heavy dark blue plastic w/ a hinged screw on cap,approx.1 qt. On the bottom is a recycling triangle w/no number and a PC under it. Is this a bad leacher?

PC that would be

PC that would be polycarbonate with BPA

Excellent piece of

Excellent piece of information. Keep sharing.