The #1 tip we hear time and again from celebrities and models is that we should drink more water. “It hydrates your skin,” they say. “It plumps out lines.” And while we couldn’t agree more, what would you say if we told you that your two-litre-a-day habit could be contributing to your hormonal acne or monthly cramps? You see, not all water bottles are born equal and it’s the plasticizer bisphenol A, more commonly known as BPA, that could be wreaking havoc with your hormones. So while drinking water is no bad thing, you need to take a moment to think about how you’re getting that water from tap to tongue.
Keep reading to find out the reasons why it’s worth avoiding BPA, why reusing that disposable bottle isn’t such a great idea and how to shop for BPA-free water bottles.
What's So Bad About BPA?
BPA is a plasticiser, a chemical used to make a substance more flexible and less brittle. It’s also a proven endocrine disruptor. Our endocrine system is comprised of glands that produce a myriad of hormones responsible for everything from metabolism and reproduction to sleep and mood. Endocrine disruptors like BPA can mimic the hormones in our bodies. To function properly, hormones bind to receptors in our cells, but chemicals like BPA can bind to these receptors and instead cause various problems.
In America, the National Toxicology Program evaluated BPA, and the report highlighted “concern for effects on the development of the prostate gland and brain and for behavioural effects in fetuses, infants and children.”
BPA has also been linked to PCOS, a fairly common endocrine disorder amongst women that can cause acne, excess hair and menstrual cramps. A 2014 study found that women with PCOS had “higher levels of BPA in biological fluids.” Going on to add, “It seems that mother’s exposure to BPA during pregnancy may also lead to the development of PCOS in the female offspring.”
The One-Use Rule
A lot of the water in shops is sold in plastic bottles containing BPA, which is not too much of a problem if you drink the water and dispose of the bottle after one use. The trouble occurs when you start to reuse that plastic water bottle again and again. Or you wash the bottle in hot soapy water or let a half-full bottle sit in the sun, say in a car, as the heat can cause the BPA to leach out of the bottle into the water.
Scott Belcher, PhD, a professor of pharmacology at the University of Cincinnati, has carried out research into the release of BPA from various water bottles. He told The Huffington Post that “heating will certainly increase the rate at which chemicals can migrate from the plastic.”
Both heat and detergents cause BPA to leach out, meaning it’s not just water bottles that are a problem. If you tend to reheat food in the microwave in plastic containers it would be worth double checking that they are BPA-free or, better still, replace with glass dishes like Pyrex.
How to Shop BPA-Free
Since BPA is found in plastics, it’s worth investing in a glass water bottle like the reusable Bkr bottles. Belcher agrees: “If you need a plastic bottle, I would recommend a polypropylene bottle, typically a white plastic. These are the types of nonreactive plastic bottles we often use in the lab.”
Not sure whether your reusable plastic water bottle is BPA-free? Most brands shout about being BPA-free, but if it’s not clear, look underneath the bottle at the triangular recycling mark. If there is a number 1, 2, 4 or 5 inside the triangle, it is BPA-free. See a 3 or a 7? It contains BPA. Simple.
Shop some of our favorite BPA-free bottles below.