THE CLINIC: Is It Safe To Reuse Water Bottles?

Thu, 6 Sept. 2012 - 1:18 a.m. MT
Credit: ARA Staff - American Running Association

QUESTION:
I read a few years ago that reusing plastic water bottles again and again can cause the plastic to break down and release carcinogens into your drink. Is this true?

 

Martin Kane
Chester, NY

 

ANSWER:

Most beverage containers sold in the United States are made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET). PET has been thoroughly tested for safety and is widely used for soft drinks, water, fruit juice, and many other applications. The FDA has determined that PET meets standards for food contact as described in the code of federal regulations. PET is approved for direct food contact for both single use, long term storage, and repeated use. This is based on extensive testing of the migration potential of PET and the safety of the other ingredients with which the bottles are made.

 

Addressing reuse, PET is chemically resistant to common detergents and cleaning agents. It does not break down when exposed to these solutions. The same holds true for other common packaging resins. They are also examined with the same scrutiny before the FDA deems them safe for food contact. As such, there is no scientific basis for the statement that repeated reuse and washing of plastic from sports drinks can cause the plastic to break down and potentially release a carcinogen.

 

Back in November of 2003 there was a myth circulating that a graduate student’s thesis at the University of Idaho showed that DEHA, a plastics additive, was a human carcinogen that could be released from a PET container. In fact, DEHA is not inherent in PET as a raw material, nor is it a decomposition product. Furthermore, DEHA has been cleared by the FDA for food contact applications and would not pose a health risk even if it were present. A review found that DEHA in the plastic items used in the laboratory was the likely source of the contamination in the study. The information about the dangers of water bottle reuse that was circulated back in 2003 was found to be baseless, but nevertheless continues to pop up from time to time.

 

Bob Murray, PhD

Director, Gatorade Sports Science Institute

 

 

DISCLAIMER: The medical information on this site is provided as an information resource only and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient-physician relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. Please consult your health care provider before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition.

The American Running Association (ARA) and its Clinic Advisory Board disclaims responsibility and shall have no liability for any consequences suffered as a result of your reliance on the information contained in this site. ARA does not endorse specifically any test, treatment, or procedure mentioned on this site.


(RUNNING & FITNEWS® January/February 2006 • Volume 24, Number 1)




Latest News
Luxury Cruise Fitness: It Can Be Done
Luxury Cruise Fitness: It Can Be Done

Aug 02 1:02 p.m.

Article by: Jeff Venables

Comrades Ultra - Loose and Fun = Success
Comrades Ultra - Loose and Fun = Success

Jun 04 12:26 p.m.

Article by: Rick Ganzi, M.D.

Young Milers in Anaheim CA love running
Young Milers in Anaheim CA love running

May 15 3:03 p.m.

Article by: Jeff Venables

Catch Them If You Can
Catch Them If You Can

Apr 08 7:22 p.m.

Article by: Jeff Venables

New Roles of Sports Chiropractic
New Roles of Sports Chiropractic

Feb 21 11:15 a.m.

Article by: Jeff Venables