Until a few years ago I always drank out of a #7 polycarbonate plastic water bottle. One went everywhere with me. The first one I owned I purchased fourteen years ago before I took off to Africa for the summer. By the end of a long hot day in a baking Land Cruiser the water in that thing was at least 80 degrees. I drank it anyway. It tasted like plastic. I didn't think then about the mess that plastic-tasting water could be doing to my endocrine system.
A few years ago I read the haunting book Our Stolen Future by Theo Colborn, Dianne Dumanoski and John Peter Myers. It goes into great detail about the history of hormone disrupting chemicals, mainly PCBs, DDT and bisphenol-A, which you may have heard referred to in the news recently as BPA.
Before I even finished the book I ran out and purchased a Klean Kanteen stainless steel water bottle
(seen to the left), hopefully minimizing my exposure to BPA, the chemical used in hardened plastics and pretty much every plastic reusable water bottle (including mine) on the market. Plus it's used as a liner in metal food cans and cardboard baby formula containers. For a long time I was the only one at work who owned on. My prankster coworkers used to make fun of it, sinking it in some of our holding fish tanks and hiding it in bags of collected seaweed. One time they even hung it from a pipe on the ceiling with a cable tie. I took me three days before I could track it down even though I probably walked under it a hundred times.
Then slowly, one by one, more stainless steel water bottles appeared around the building. I decided to do an experiment a few weeks ago to see how many I could find. I grabbed a bucket and started going from office to office, lab to lab and through the volunteer lounge. On a short-staffed Monday, in only about ten minutes, I rounded up eleven besides mine. When I went to return them after the photo shoot I saw four more up in the Research lab attached to backpacks piled up and ready to go on a collection dive. I'll have to do it again on a day when the whole staff is around. I bet I could find a few dozen.
A quick walk through our gift shop later that day reveled that we no longer sell plastic water bottles, even the BPA-free ones. All the water bottles we now sell sporting our aquarium's logo are stainless steel. Hooray!
So my lonely stainless steel water bottle now has friends. It makes me glad to know that most of my coworkers are trying to watch what they put in their bodies. We can't avoid all man-made chemicals, but we can do our best. Hopefully I'll never find it attached to a pipe ten feet off the floor again.
My local Representative, Ed Markey, is trying to get a BPA ban through congress. He was recently quoted as saying:
“It is clear that BPA poses serious health risks, especially to children,” said Rep. Markey. “Chicago’s decision adds to the momentum building across the country in support of a nationwide ban. Congress should quickly ban this toxin from all food and beverage containers so that parents can feed their children without worrying about poisonous chemicals.”
The BPA industry is of course pushing back, even trying to use a pregnant woman as a spokesperson. But this recently pregnant woman isn't buying it. I'll stick with the stainless steel for me and glass baby bottles for my kid.
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