These Popular Plastic Bottles May Be Messing With Your Hormones

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A new study finds that many BPA-free brands advertised as safe may be anything but.

Many BPA-free plastics may leach BPA-like chemicals that are potentially damaging to human healtha dilemma Mother Jones explored in our exposé on the plastics industry earlier this year. But consumers have had no way of knowing which of the items lurking in their pantries might wreak havoc on their hormones. Until now. A new paper in the journal Environmental Health identifies specific plastic products—including AVENT baby bottles, CamelBak sippy cups, and Lock & Lock food storage containers—that leach estrogen-mimicking chemicals. Perhaps more importantly, it also names  a few options that are hormone-free.

8ac0f32e-a8dc-4690-83b3-962eca907d44Between 2010 and 2013, scientists from CertiChem, a private lab in Austin, tested 50 reusable BPA-free plastic containers. In most cases, they used a line of human breast cancer cells that multiplies in the presence of estrogen, as well as substances like BPA that mimic the female hormone. The researchers found that some products leached hormone-altering chemicals even before being exposed to conditions, such as heat from a dishwasher or microwave, that are known to unlock potentially toxic chemicals inside plastic. And most containers did so under some circumstances. After exposure to the type of ultraviolet rays that are found in sunlight (UVA) and used to sterilize baby bottles (UVC), more than three-quarters of the containers tested released synthetic estrogens. The chart below shows the results for a sampling of products before and after UV exposure.

 

ARCADIA, CA - APRIL 16:  Camelback brand water bottles hang on display at an outdoor supply store on April 16, 2008 in Arcadia, California. The Camelback brand are free of the controversial carbonate plastic bisphenol-a (BPA), one of the most widely used synthetic chemicals in industry. National Institutes of Health's National Toxicology Program has concluded that the estrogen-like chemical in the plastic, which is also used in many baby products, beverage and food containers, and as linings in food cans, could be harmful to the development of children's brains and reproductive organs, and Canada is reportedly about to declare health finding against BPA. Some makers of such bottles have recognized the concern, including Nalgene and Camelback, have begun producing BPA-free alternative containers.  (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

ARCADIA, CA – APRIL 16: Camelback brand water bottles hang on display at an outdoor supply store on April 16, 2008 in Arcadia, California. The Camelback brand are free of the controversial carbonate plastic bisphenol-a (BPA), one of the most widely used synthetic chemicals in industry. National Institutes of Health’s National Toxicology Program has concluded that the estrogen-like chemical in the plastic, which is also used in many baby products, beverage and food containers, and as linings in food cans, could be harmful to the development of children’s brains and reproductive organs, and Canada is reportedly about to declare health finding against BPA. Some makers of such bottles have recognized the concern, including Nalgene and Camelback, have begun producing BPA-free alternative containers. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Are There Hormone-Altering Chemicals in Your Plastic Bottle?

 

Product Type of plastic Before UV exposure After UV exposure
Baby bottles
AVENT Polyester (PES) Not tested Positive
Born Free Polyester (PES) Not tested Positive
Green to Grow Polyester (PES) Negative Positive
Evenflo Tritan Not tested Positive
Weil Baby Tritan Negative Positive
Sippy cups
CamelBak, blue* Tritan Positive Positive
CamelBak, black* Tritan Negative Positive
Water bottles
CamelBak, black Tritan Not tested Positive
CamelBak, blue Tritan Not tested Positive
Nalgene, blue* Tritan Negative Positive
Nalgene, green* Tritan Negative Negative
Topas Cyclic Olefin Copolymer (COC) Negative Negative
Zeonor Cyclic Olefin Polymer (COP) Negative Negative
Other products
Crate & Barrel wine glasses, red* Acrylic Positive Positive
Disposable cup Polystyrene (PS) Positive Not tested
Lock & Lock food containers Tritan Positive Positive
Clamshell takeout container* Polystyrene (PS) Positive Not tested

*Tested using BG-1 cells

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Rachel C. , PhD Research Scientist Consultant @ U-VIB PhD,
Doctor of Philosophy in Counseling NREMT-P (National Registry of Paramedics)

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source: George D. Bittner, et al, Environmental Health Chart by Jaeh Lee

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