Sunday, February 22, 2009

"Water Bottle Myths -- Reusable? Poisonous?"



I have worked at Whole Foods long enough to hear many of the “health myths” that typically float through the customer base there. One of these myths about health and product is found in the scare about plastic water bottles. It started in an email referencing a masters thesis by a student at the University of Idaho. The media, according to Snopes, ran with the story even though there was no peer reviews of the students work. They have this myth marked as false. Another worth-while article to read is on my Carol Rees Parrish, R.D., M.S., entitled, “Bottled Water Myths: Separating Fact from Fiction.” In it it is pointed out that,
Based on the evidence available to date, it appears the true health risks (if any) related to drinking commercially manufactured bottled water or water in refillable plastic bottles may or may not come from the plastic itself. Further study is warranted to determine if poly carbonate plastics can cause harm to humans. Consumers should focus more on the quality of the drinking water, particularly from a microbe perspective as this point is indisputable, rather than chemicals leaching from the container.
One of the organizations implicated as supporting the health risks by bottled water release this statement in their Public Health News Center bulletin:
The Internet is flooded with messages warning against freezing water in plastic bottles or cooking with plastics in the microwave oven. These messages, frequently titled “Johns Hopkins Cancer News” or “Johns Hopkins Cancer Update,” are falsely attributed to Johns Hopkins and we do not endorse their content. Freezing water does not cause the release of chemicals from plastic bottles.
Email Hoax Regarding Freezing Water Bottles and Microwave Cooking,” John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
In a short video, Dr. Joe Schwarcz, author of Brain Fuel: 199 Mind-Expanding Inquiries into the Science of Everyday Life, explains some of these myths in more detail:
Even author Elizabeth Royte mentioned in an interview that this is a myth of grand proportions. (You can hear this interview dated 1-22-09 on the Dennis Prager show when she was interviewed about her book Bottlemania: How Water Went on Sale and Why We Bought It. There are much better reasons to stop using water bottles than hocus-pocus... she even seemingly convinced Dennis of this.) Again, the folks at Johns Hopkins sat down with Dr. Rolf Haden, assistant professor at Department of Environmental Health Sciences and the Center for Water and Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Haden dispelled the myth saying “This is an urban legend. There are no dioxins in plastics. In addition, freezing actually works against the release of chemicals.”
Those are my thoughts on the matter.