Plastic bottles have been at the forefront of testing and quality control ever since it became known that certain containers had a tendency to leach chemicals into the water it was holding. Over the years several leading universities, including the University of Cincinnati (2008 ) and Harvard (2009) have published studies linking the use of bisphenol A (BPA) in plastic bottles to an increase in cardiovascular disease and diabetes in humans. BPA, which is often found in polycarbonate bottles, regularly leaches into the liquid it holds and is absorbed by our bodies.
University of Cincinnati scientist Dr Scott Belcher was quick to point out that whilst the use of BPA has yet to yield concrete proof of negative effects on human, it hasn’t affected the scientific consensus on the danger it poses.
“There is a large body of scientific evidence demonstrating the harmful effects of very small amounts of BPA in laboratory and animal studies, but little clinical evidence related to humans. There is a very strong suspicion in the scientific community, however, that this chemical has harmful effects on humans.”
This chemical is found in bottles everywhere, from personal drinking bottle to baby bottles as well as several other sources, such as dentistry composites and sealants, and the lining of aluminium food and beverage cans. Their widespread use and tendency to leach made scientists and the medical community issue several warnings as to their health risks — especially in children, as Harvard associate professor of epidemiology Karin B. Michels explains:
“We found that drinking cold liquids from polycarbonate bottles for just one week increased urinary BPA levels by more than two-thirds. If you heat those bottles, as is the case with baby bottles, we would expect the levels to be considerably higher. This would be of concern since infants may be particularly susceptible to BPA’s endocrine-disrupting potential.”
Endocrine disruption was a major issue with the animal test group, with symptoms including early onset of sexual maturation, altered development and tissue organization of the mammary gland and decreased sperm production in offspring. As a result of BPA’s outing as a dangerous substance, it was banned in several countries including Canada, whilst other nations like the United States added it as a controlled substance. However, even today, it continues to have a tenuous position within the food market, with the European Food Safety Authority and the Environmental Protection Agency (US) both still debating the dangers of BPA as part of human consumption.