By Jenn (TinyChoices.com) | January 22, 2008
Update: Please read our “We Are Not Experts” disclaimer
I’ve written before about the sad but true fact that pretty Nalgene bottles most likely leach Bisphenol-A (a hormone disruptor) into the liquids and foods you store inside them, and how even though this has yet to be proven absolutely, a certain Canadian giant outdoors store has stopped selling them until the Canadian government proves their safety. It turns out that retail giants Patagonia, Whole Foods, and Lululemon have also decided to halt polycarbonate bottle sales– Patagonia making that decision way back in 2005! Way to be ahead of the curve, Yvon.
In light of this information, I’d mostly stopped using my many Nalgenes and switched to Sigg bottles: they are pretty (increasing the chance of me remembering to carry it every day), lightweight and durable (they dent but don’t seem to break), and maybe it’s just me but water seems to taste better when drunk from them. There’s just one downside which has stayed with me, and now further reading has made me seriously reconsider my decision to use them: since aluminum is not food-safe, Sigg bottles have an interior baked-on epoxy liner. The formula for the expoxy liner is top secret, but we’re assured that it’s safe. I’m sure ya’ll agree it’s a little difficult to believe that this liner is safe, when we all previously thought/were told that Nalgenes were safe too… but I’d really wanted to believe. Now, I’m not so sure.
In reading this article on the Sustainable Cities blog, I learned that the inner lining in cans of pineapple leaches
PCBs (polycarbonates )… so I followed their link over to this article on the Gotham Gazette, where we get some background on polycarbonates, and learn more about the canned goods situation:
Polycarbonate is a form of plastic that is comprised mostly of bisphenol A (BPA), an endocrine disruptor that mimics the female hormone, estrogen. In animal studies, BPA has been associated with the abnormalities listed above [infertility, lower sperm counts, enlarged prostrate glands, pre-cancerous lesions in breast and prostate tissue], as well as with obesity and insulin resistance – a condition that commonly precedes the development of diabetes. If all that wasn’t bad enough, BPA also has been shown in animal studies to cause changes in behavior.
Not surprisingly, industry-funded studies have failed to find these same effects. And, the jump from animal studies to human impacts is an imperfect one, so there is a lot of controversy around the toxic effects of BPA…
We also know that more than 90 percent of the general population carries residues of BPA in their bodies. How is that possible? After all, not everybody drinks from Nalgene bottles. But the BPA chemical is ubiquitous. Epoxy resins containing BPA line the cans of tomato sauce and leach into the sauce, thanks to the acidity of the tomatoes. It lines the insides of your Coke and juice cans—whoops, there’s that acid-enhanced leaching again. Canned fruits? Yup, you’ll find BPA in those cans too. Here are some other BPA sources: the insides of the cans of infant formula, some dental sealants and even that polycarbonate pitcher that came with your Brita filter.
So, now I’m not sure if I’m drawing correct or incorrect conclusions– I feel like I have a case of too much information and too few hard facts– but if Sigg won’t disclose the chemical makeup of their liner, then how can we be sure that it’s a different/safer formula than what currently lines our food cans? Presumably that material has been tested by the FDA as well, and presumably it passed… but we’re now learning that it’s not food-safe at all and even leaches into baby formula, of all things!
Following more links (you know how that goes), I landed on the Environmental Working Group site, which offers these links on BPA:
- Toxic Plastics Chemical in Infant Formula
- Federal Panel’s Report on Food Contaminant Flunks Basic Science
- The Bisphenol-A Dilemma: How is government responding? It’s not
And some more choice quotes on BPA by EWG.org, on the OrganicConsumers.org site, referring to a study released on 3/5/07:
…According to an Environmental Working Group (EWG) report released today…. the lab tests conducted for EWG found bisphenol A, or BPA, in 55 of 97 cans of food purchased from major supermarket chains in California, Connecticut and Georgia. The lab tested 27 national name brands and three store brands.
…Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently detected BPA in 95% of nearly 400 U.S. adults and children… The last comprehensive review of low dose studies found that the overwhelming majority of peer-reviewed studies—94 of 115—of have confirmed BPA’s toxicity at low levels of exposure. Few chemicals have been found to consistently display such a diverse range of harm at such low doses.
I’m going to stop linking and quoting now– I think you get the idea. All of this just makes me more confused– first of all, how did the general population not know that many of our canned foods are packaged with poison? and why isn’t there an uproar about this? Second, does this or does this not have implications for the liner in Sigg bottles?
In order to phase out as much confusion as I can from my life (this is my tiny choice for today) I’m going to reuse an empty glass jar as my portable drink container. I still love my Sigg and I’ll still use it occasionally, as I (very) occasionally still use a Nalgene– but for the most part, hello glass jar! You are so simple and so pretty and you don’t confuse me, I love you! I could (and might, at some point, after I shatter a few glass jars) buy a stainless steel water bottle– but for now the thought of purchasing yet another liquid carrying container makes me want to cry.
Which leaves me with one last question: can I pour boiling water directly into a reused peanut butter-type jar, or will it crack?
What do you make of this hullaballoo? What are your thoughts on the Sigg bottles?
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