Outdoor adventurers take note: Those hard plastic water bottles may leach hormone-mimicking chemicals if you fill them with piping hot water. (Mothers take note, too: Some baby bottles may be made of the same plastics, and could be subject to similar leaching.)
New research by University of Cincinnati scientists shows that Bisphenol A in polycarbonate plastic bottles used by rock climbers is more likely to leach out into the liquid when that liquid is hot. The temperature of the water is more important than the age of the bottle; some had speculated that deteriorating bottles would leach more of the chemical. The research is published in the journal Toxicology Letters.
Bisphenol A is among a class of chemicals, known as endocrine disruptors, that is causing growing concern among some scientists. Though legal to use and defended vigorously by manufacturers, these chemicals can mimic sex hormones at low levels, and that has raised fears they could cause subtle but lasting effects, particularly on developing fetuses and young children. The brain and reproductive system are most often affected in laboratory animal studies, but tests so far on humans have not been conclusive.
Scott Belcher, PhD, and his team found when the same new and used polycarbonate drinking bottles were exposed to boiling hot water, BPA, an environmental estrogen, was released 55 times more rapidly than before exposure to hot water.
There is a large body of scientific evidence demonstrating the harmful effects of very small amounts of BPA in laboratory and animal studies, but little clinical evidence related to humans, said Belcher, an associate professor of pharmacology and cell biophysics.There is a very strong suspicion in the scientific community, however, that this chemical has harmful effects on humans.
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