Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Cancer Drugs Found in Tap Water

Traces of cancer and psychiatric drugs were found in Britain’s tap water, according to a 100-page report commissioned by the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI).

Despite extensive purification treatments used by water companies, traces of bleomycin, a cancer chemotherapy drug, and diazepam, a sedative, have been found in the drinking water.

Though experts say the drug levels are too low to pose a direct health risk, concerns have been raised about exposing pregnant women to the drugs, which could harm an unborn child.

A separate study by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Wallingford, Oxfordshire also revealed that chemotherapy drugs are being washed into Britain’s rivers. The report estimated that an adult who drinks more than three pints of water a day would receive doses of the drugs between 300 and 30,000 times lower than recommended safety levels each week.

Still, some experts are worried.

"There is not evidence to show that drinking water treatment removes all these drugs, so while we are not wanting to alarm people, it would be foolish to assume there is no risk,” said scientist Andrew Johnson, who led the Wallingford study.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Don't Put Your Coffee in Plastic Bottles

The amount of dangerous bisphenol A (BPA) that leaches from plastic bottles into the drinks they contain is most dependent on the liquid's temperature, according to new research. When both new and used polycarbonate drinking bottles were exposed to boiling hot water, BPA was released 55 times more rapidly.

BPA an endocrine disruptors which mimics your body's natural hormones. Hormones serve different functions throughout your body. BPA has been shown to affect reproduction and brain development.

The increased release of BPA continued even after the hot liquid was removed, meaning that even washing plastic bottles in a hot dishwasher could lead to increased BPA content in cold drinks.

Friday, January 4, 2008

More on Water bottles

The Problem: This is where the confusion begins. Many folks assume that because it doesn't impart flavor to the liquid it holds that it's safer than other types of plastic bottles. Research findings published in 2003 by the journal Current Biology, show otherwise. These findings were the result of a study by Dr. Patricia Hunt of Case Western University in Ohio that questioned the use of polycarbonate plastics such as Lexan.

In 1998, Hunt discovered that plastics made from polycarbonate resin can leach bisphenol-A (BPA), a potent hormone disruptor. BPA, a chemical found in epoxy resin and polycarbonate plastics, may impair the reproductive organs and have adverse effects on tumors, breast tissue development and prostate development by reducing sperm count.

BPA can be leached into the water bottles contents through normal wear and tear, exposure to heat and cleaning agents. This includes leaving your plastic water bottle in your car during errands, in your back pack during hikes and running it through your dishwasher and using harsh detergents. And, a 2003 study conducted by the University of Missouri published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives confirmed Dr. Hunts' study conclusions but also found that detectable levels of BPA leached into liquids at room temperature. This means just having your plastic water bottle sitting on your desk can be potentially harmful. In this author's humble opinion, the best thing to do is to avoid plastic altogether. (Side note: baby bottles made from polycarbonate plastics have quietly disappeared from the market despite industry assurances that polycarbonate plastics are safe)

The Solution: There are two approaches to take to avoid exposure to BPA. First, if you are active and take water with you, switch to a stainless steel water bottle. But, be careful. Many products on the market are lined with an epoxy finish. This defeats the purpose. Make sure that the bottle is stainless steel both inside and out. Stainless steel water bottles are light, durable and hold both hot and cold liquids well.

The second approach is to reuse glass containers such as quart sized juice bottles. Yes, they are a bit heavier but are good solutions if you're in an office environment where mobility isn't an issue.

Either way, to avoid bacteria build up, wash out your containers with warm water and biodegradable dish soap. Be sure to wipe the mouth of the container and the lids. And most importantly, let the container completely dry before refilling. Keeping any container continually filled with liquid can lead to bacteria developing and potential illness.