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Don't re-use plastic bottles

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Seems like another one of those things we've been doinf for ages has wound up on the "Things we can't do anymore" list... *sigh...

I know they're probably right, but i can't help but wonder "What next?"

Don't reuse plastic bottles

YOU could be drinking a cocktail of germs and bacteria if you store water in a reused plastic bottle.

Research has found that reusing such plastic bottles could be very unhealthly indeed.

A study published in the Canadian Journal Of Public Health found bacteria and chemical compounds in water from bottles that had been repeatedly washed and reused.

Based on water samples collected from young schoolchildren, researchers from the University of Calgary found found faecal coliform - a bacteria found in human faeces - in nearly 9 per cent of the samples.

It also found a toxin called DEHA in some. DEHA has been found to cause weight loss and liver problems, and is also suspected of causing cancer.

Mineral water and soft drink bottles are made of a plastic called polyethylene terephthalate, meant only for one-time use.

Associate Professor Simo O Pehkonen from the National University of Singapore's Chemical and Environmental Engineering department said that frequent washing would break down the plastic.

The chemical compounds then leach into the bottle's contents.

He said: 'Bacteria builds up on the walls of the bottle. If you use it maybe six times, it is still okay. If you use it for a prolonged period, the bacteria will form colonies and you can't even see it.'

Head of the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority's (AVA) Food Control Division Seah Huay Leng agreed that the bottles were intended for one-time use only.

A spokesman for F&N Coca-Cola (Singapore) also advised customers not to reuse drink bottles as they are difficult to properly sterilise.

The best place for such bottles is therefore a recycling bin.
post #2 of 20
Adding that to my list....
post #3 of 20
Thread Starter 
Risk in Reusing Water Bottles
Lynda Zimmerman,

While people may think they’re doing a good deed for the environment when they reuse water bottles for anything from orange juice in a bagged lunch to a week’s worth of water refills from the office water cooler, researchers say they could be risking their health.

Dangerous bacteria and potentially toxic plastic compounds have been found in the types of water bottles that are typically reused in homes, classrooms, and workplaces across the county.

A study of water bottles at a Canadian elementary school found bacteria in childrens’ bottles that would have prompted health officials to issue boil-water advisories, had the samples come from a tap.

Researcher Cathy Ryan, a University of Calgary professor, discovered bacterial contamination in about a third of the samples collected from kids’ water bottles at the school. Some samples even showed evidence of fecal coliforms. The bacteria likely came from the kids’ hands and mouths over time as they repeatedly used the same bottles without washing them or allowing them to dry.

While researchers in her study collected samples from only 76 bottles at one elementary school, Ryan said the results would likely be the same anywhere else. “I have no reason to believe these kids do a poorer job of washing their hands than in any other elementary school,†she said.

When the study results were published in the Canadian Journal of Public Health last fall, the local school board advised parents to make sure students’ bottles were taken home and washed properly and frequently.

Repeatedly washing water bottles, however, poses another health risk. A study conducted in the U.S. suggests the kind of thorough washing that could kill bacteria might make the bottles unsafe in another way—frequent washing might accelerate the breakdown of the plastic, potentially causing chemicals to leach into the water. Preliminary research has shown that with repeated use, toxic chemical compounds can migrate out of the bottles into the liquid inside.

Although plastics experts contend the bottles are safe, the study ultimately concluded little is known about what happens when the bottles are used over and over again. “A lot of these compounds have not really been studied in terms of their human health effects,†said Margrit von Braun, a University of Idaho professor.

Single-use soft-drink and water bottles are commonly made of a plastic called polyethylene terephthalate (PET) which, while considered safe for its intended use, was found to break down over time. “The longer you used it, the more stuff ended up in the water,†said von Braun.

One of the toxins that frequently appeared in water samples from the reused bottles was DEHA, a carcinogen regulated in drinking water because it has been linked to weight loss, liver problems, or possible reproductive difficulties. It is also suspected that DEHA can cause cancer in humans.

Von Braun said she was surprised to discover how widespread the reuse was—and how long some people would hold on to a single bottle. “A lot of people use them for weeks, and sometimes months, literally until it’s leaking,†said von Braun. One survey of students and faculty on the campus found someone who had been reusing the same bottle for six months.

The Canadian Bottled Water Association advises against reusing the water containers altogether. It says they are made for single use and should be recycled afterward, not reused. “People would be unable to properly sterilize the bottles at home, and the industry doesn’t evaluate the safety of the bottles for multiple uses,“ said Elizabeth Griswold, executive director of the association.

Additional information about bottled and tap water is available from Environment, Health and Safety Online at
post #4 of 20
Dang, one more thing for that list

Originally posted by Yzma
If you use it maybe six times, it is still okay. If you use it for a prolonged period, the bacteria will form colonies and you can't even see it.'
Well, I´ll use them six times then, and then buy a new one...
post #5 of 20
I've apparently have been a bad girl....
I've been using the same HUGE water bottle since December! I bought it in Chicago right before I was getting on a plane to come back home. It's so handy though...I fill it every night before I go to bed & drink it through out the night. I always get so dry in the middle of the night and I'm too lazy to get up to get a glass of water!
post #6 of 20
I read that about water bottles a few months back. We had been reusing the 1 1/2 liter bottles we take to the gym, for weeks on end. Now I toss mine after one refill.
post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 
post #8 of 20
What isn't clear to me about this is why those chemicals aren't leaking into the plastic bottles from the moment they are filled at the factory? I just checked a bottle of spring water that I have in the closet, and it has a two year shelf life. And with all of the endless suggestions about how coca-cola can eat through anything, how can they store it in plastic at all? I can understand about the bottles no longer being sterile of course.

For the record, I had about 30 liters of water on hand, some store bought but mostly refilled soda bottles, in my closet. When we lost our power last week, we also lost our water. I didn't use the refilled water for drinking [except once, but I boiled it first] but it came in really handy for things like the bathroom and washing up!
post #9 of 20
Originally posted by Yzma
DEHA has been found to cause weight loss
Nope - we must not have that in our bottles

Seriously, I will do less refills now, though I wonder too as to what Lucia said. There are also commercial interests involved - manufacturers would like us to buy new bottles all the time...
post #10 of 20
I haven't re-used plastic water bottles for ages. I could never clean them in a way that satisfied me and the neck is too small to wash in the dishwasher. Recently, I also saw a news segment with our local TV channel. They had a scientist go around the city and swab everything from bathroom door handles too the plastic bottle that the reporting journalist refilled and brought to work every day. Then he took the samples to a lab and let whatever bacteria he collected grow separately. Can you guess what produced the worst result with ecoli bacteria? It was the water bottle sample. You can make yourself sick. Not everyone will, but you certainly lower your risk if you don't do this.

Here's what I do: I have a couple of glass iced tea bottles that have a wider mouth opening. (Lipton Iced Tea) I bring them to my softball games. Once they've been used they go into the dishwasher. I think the bigger opening allows them to be cleaned easier too.
post #11 of 20
We use ours for the week, and on Fridays I toss them. I've read this before about the bacteria building up after prolonged use.
post #12 of 20
i read that awhile ago and since haven't been refilling as much. I read it you wash them though it is okay. I'll have to see if I can find any other online info.
post #13 of 20
Wow I reuse plastic bottles all the time! Yikes!
post #14 of 20
Originally posted by Pollyanna
Well, I´ll use them six times then, and then buy a new one...

Sounds good to me!
post #15 of 20
I also reuse plastic bottles. They have been so nice in this hot weather. I just fill a bottle with water and put it in the refrigerator.
post #16 of 20
Eep! I always reuse my plastic bottles, over and over, so I don't have to buy them too often. Guess I should start spending the extra couple bucks . . .
post #17 of 20
Told hubby about this and he asked what's so bad about the bacteria He says as we have been drinking from used bottles for so long and so far no harm done, he's guessing this bacteria can't be that bad

post #18 of 20
Thread Starter 
Hmm... Guess i'm lucky my fiancee is a cleanliness freak...
post #19 of 20

There's two sides to a study like this. Please don't shoot the messenger here. *builds a impenetrable fortress*

What hasn't been mentioned are the levels at which these chemicals are leached into the water. Oh and by the way, this process also occurs in a new bottle of water that leaves the factory production line. The reason why it is okay to still sell this water is because it is at a level that is still safe as it is below the toxicity level limit deemed safe the average adult and child. Though for everyone, the toxicity level is defferent for everyone. This level can increase for a particular substance if you have been exposed for small amounts over time and your body has adjusted accordingly. This won't cause harm just as long they don't reach a level that will cause harm.

Bacteria, well, it will grow where ever it can. Often the stiuation isn't helped when surfaces aren't washed thoroughly. The study did collect bottles from young children which does beg the question, "Do all these children wash their hands after going to the toilet?" That is the easiest and most common reason of how faecal coliform ends up in food sources.

Frequent washing would cause deterioration of the plastic. Though this plastic was developed so that it was easier to recycle in an effort to reduce landfill, and as a result help preserve and save the environment. So it isn't the end of the world if you choose to recycle them instead of reusing them.

Also I'd like to point out that the plastic used to make bottles to store water, (like the ones for kids lunch boxes etc..), is different to polyethylene terephthalate, (PET), and are designed for long term use.
post #20 of 20
I don't drink the water when I have to refill the bottle. I save my gallon jugs to fill up in case of a hurricane, so we can flush the toilet and wash pans. I wonder if the bacteria would be washed away with the dish soap off the pans. We eat and drink using disposables. Now I am worried. I became extremely ill from the water after a hurricane once, but we think it was from ice made from water I didn't boil, but got from the ice maker from the fridge after the power came back on. I may have to find alternate storage for my water!
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