If you find yourself confused about what chemicals are in plastic water bottles, and whether those chemicals could harm your health, you’re not alone.
The most prominent chemicals found in plastic water bottles are, well, plastic. Plastic’s chemical properties can lead to plastic-related toxins being released in the body. These plastics include polyethylene terephthalate, high-density polyethylene, and bisphenol A (BPA).
With a little guidance, you can confidently make decisions that support your health, your lifestyle, and even the environment.
When it comes to finding out what chemicals are in a plastic bottle—along with the safety of those chemicals—it’s helpful to provide context.
One study found that 93% of bottled water brands sampled contained traces of microplastics, including companies like Aquafina, Evian, and Nestle Pure Life. In comparison, tap water contained about 50% fewer microplastics than bottled water.1
That study suggests drinking water from any single-use plastic bottle could carry a high risk of consuming water tainted by microplastics.
The question then becomes, could microplastics hurt you?
The answer to that tends to depend on the specific plastic. Different types of plastic have different levels of known risks and health effects.
Most plastics used in water bottles fall into one of three categories. Typically, a number on the packaging printed inside a triangle—1, 2, or 7—will indicate what category of plastic a bottle falls into:2
PET makes up most single-use plastic water bottles sold in the U.S.1
When we say single-use, we mean it. Experts warn that repeatedly using water bottles made from PET can wear down the material, which could allow harmful bacteria to build up in the cracks.3 Washing PET bottles can also cause problems since exposure to hot water can cause plastic chemicals to leach into your water.4
Since they’re are to be used once, disposable water bottles usually get tossed back into the environment. In addition to the health questions raised, single-use plastic water bottles can also have a negative effect on the environment. With a few exceptions like incineration, practically all of the plastic created still exists in some form or other on the planet.4 While recycling can mitigate some of the environmental damage done by single-use plastic bottles, choosing a non-plastic water bottle option can bypass the issue entirely.
Unlike single-use water bottles made of PET, many reusable plastic water bottles tend to be made from plastic polymers such as polypropylene and copolyester, making them both sturdy and lightweight.3
While these bottles rarely contain BPA anymore, there’s still a lot the scientific community doesn’t know about the potential health risks of these plastics.3
Because we still don’t know the long-term health of these plastics, experts recommend avoiding the dishwasher and washing your water bottle by hand. The heat and abrasion of a typical dishwasher could enhance chemical leaching that would affect any liquids you put in your bottle.3
When it comes to determining the precise chemicals in a water bottle, lack of transparency remains the biggest hurdle.
In fact, no law or regulation requires corporations selling bottled water to test their water for plastic chemical substances, or even to tell customers where their water comes from.1
American tap water providers, on the other hand, must:1
While it’s theoretically possible for a bottle of water to be pure, with the current level of regulation, it’s too hard to know for sure. There’s still research to be done on the health effects and safety of plastic products, especially disposable water bottles. However, With tap water, you can access regulated, quality reports about your water. If necessary, you can also take follow-up steps to improve your water like adding a ro water filter system.
Now that you know some of the more common plastics found in water bottles, let’s address some of the health risks associated with each type of plastic, and with plastic bottles in general.
To avoid the risks associated with chemical leaching, as well as the bacterial growth associated with worn and poorly washed plastic, consider trying a water bottle made from alternative materials.
Glass water bottles, metal water bottles, and paper cups could all serve as a healthier alternative to drinking out of water bottles made of plastic. These alternatives can prove more environmentally friendly as well.
Americans buy roughly 50 billion water bottles a year. By choosing an alternative to the single-use plastic water bottle, you could save about 156 plastic bottles every year.24
After learning more about the chemicals in plastic water bottles, you may vow to switch to a glass or metal water bottle that you refill from your own tap water.
That’s an important first step, but you could still inadvertently expose yourself to microplastics if you don’t use a water purifying system. Plastics abandoned in landfills can break down into tiny toxic particles that mix into our soil and waterways, potentially exposing you to harmful plastic particles. 4
To safeguard against stray plastic particles in your water supply, consider installing a reverse osmosis system to purify your water.
An RO system works by pushing unpurified water through a semipermeable membrane. The membrane removes impurities and contaminants like plastic chemicals, along with other unwanted dissolved solids. An RO system can also remove bacteria like Salmonella and E. Coli, as well as viruses like Hepatitis, Enteric, and Norovirus.
This leaves your water healthy, clean, and delicious.
In 2017, Rayne Water created the most efficient RO system on the market. Our system eliminates over 95 % of contaminants while saving you water and money.
As the oldest continually operating water conditioning company in the U.S., we’re committed to helping each new generation navigate the challenge of water contamination, including the risk of plastic contamination. We have locations in Arizona, California, and Nevada. So if you need a water softener in Sacramento or a reverse osmosis system in Phoenix… we’ve got you covered!
That’s why we offer a range of products designed to improve and protect your water supply. So you can safely—and confidently—enjoy the world’s oldest beverage.