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Polycarbonate controversry
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mark henley
(flash582) - F
A tale of Three friends on 12/11/2007 15:06:48 MST Print View

When I was a younger man, I drank to excess, smoked cigarettes, chased women, etc. I was a bad boy, I'm afraid.

On three separate occasions I've had a good friend tell me that I'd be dead long before they even started to feel bad.

They didn't drink, or smoke, ate right, exercised every single day, and so forth.

Saddly, the first one developed Diabetes when he was 34 and died 6 months later of an enlarged heart.

The second one dropped dead from a Heart Attack one day when he was out for a run in 95 degree heat.

The third one was shot in the head by his former girlfriend because she was mad at him for breaking up with her. (Unknown to all she had a former drug problem and jumped back in when they split up. sensless)

And not to forget my Father who had a sudden dizzy spell, slipped in the kitchen an broke his neck on a chair leg.

Or my Sister in Law who, without warning, had liver failure from a undiagnosed liver ailment when she was a child and passed away 5 days later, at the tender age of 46.

I've adopted a much heathier lifestyle these days but in my mind I must lean twords Sara's point.

Drinking my water out of a plastic water bottle is a risk I think I can live with. There's way too much stuff out there that will kill ya to worry about.

Oh yeah ... did you hear the latest study results?

Saliva has been found to cause Cancer .... but only if swallowed in small amounts over a very long period of time.....

Christopher Chupka

Locale: NTX
Pee on 12/11/2007 15:52:59 MST Print View

To top all that off I have so many of the Nalgenes I can't remember which ones were my pee bottles. Washed and then put back in the mix. Literally I think I have consumed over a thousand gallons of water out of these bottles.

I have poured boiling water in all of them. They have been frozen, dropped, kicked, thrown.

I gave up on the soft side Nalgene bottles after they all cracked after being in short term storage.

I have smoked in the past, drank adult beverages to excess, immunized by God knows for the jungles of Panama, taken experimental anti-nerve agent pills in Iraq, drank iodine, rubbed 100% DEET all over my body, had chest X-rays, jumped out of airplanes, fallen off my bike, 5 car wrecks, and been shot at a few times.

I also eat eggs and red meat and drink milk.

I like my bottles.

Brian James
(bjamesd) - F

Locale: South Coast of BC
quality of life on 12/11/2007 16:46:22 MST Print View

I eat meat, talk on a cellphone, and make campfires. I rode a motorcycle for 5 years. I go in the sun and I am in love with a woman who speaks mostly french.

You couldn't take any of these things away from me, because they add so much to my quality of life. Despite their inherent "risks", the alternative is not acceptable to me. I will not live in a padded bubble, getting no more (or less) than 15 minutes of UV exposure a day, eating raw vegetables, and communicating by telegram. What life would I be protecting then?

I think that everyone makes this type of personal evaluation: smokers, skydivers, and yes backpackers are willing to take the risks because the rewards are worth it -- or because the alternative isn't worth it.

BPA, though, is not a quality of life issue! There are plenty of alternatives. Life goes on without BPA.

Remember this about the apparently "inconclusive" research on BPA: there is no possibility of a control group. We are all full of the stuff and have been for 20 years. They can't compare a "BPA person" to a person who lived the same life but has never had contact with BPA.

THAT is why the studies can't be more conclusive. It is impossible to know which of our slew of modern ailments are or aren't linked to BPA because we've all been bathed in the stuff for decades.

The only place they can do effective, controlled studies is on animals -- because it is possible to raise an animal that's never eaten BPA. And in animals, the results are *scary*. Animals develop many of the puzzling problems that humans have developed in the last 30 years. BPA, after all, was discovered by a scientist looking for synthetic estrogen.

(And by the way, humans are often found to contain 10x the level of BPA that's considered dangerous in animals.)

I say it again: if taking away BPA was a "life worth living" issue, I would eat it every night for dinner with ketchup. But it's not.

What it *is* is an apparently substantial risk with effectively no reward.


Edit: PS. Sarah I appreciated your blog post, but I think that there are two different issues here. Does BPA get into humans from using plastics? Yes it does. (BPA is not mentioned in the articles you linked to.) The question is as to its' short- and long-term toxicity. Right now it's standing where tobacco, PFOA, and thalidomide once were: "highly-studied" compounds that were proven non-toxic by leading "scienticians". It may turn out that BPA does terrible things to animals but *not* to people; we will see. To me, it's not worth the inherent risk associated with not simply switching to other types of plastics.

Edited by bjamesd on 12/11/2007 17:14:48 MST.

David T
(DaveT) - F
. on 12/11/2007 17:02:42 MST Print View


Edited by DaveT on 11/19/2014 21:38:36 MST.

(cuzzettj) - MLife

Locale: NorCal - South Bay
Polycarbonate controversry on 12/11/2007 17:33:10 MST Print View

You can have my Nalgene bottles when you pry them from my cold dead fingers!

Besides... The simple joy I get out of boiling water and dumping it in the bottle with my soup, stew, or oatmeal; wrapping the bottle in a fleece or sleeping bag and then continuing the hike for 1/2 hour to an hour and eating a hot or warm meal just doesn't justify a long life. It is what it is and a lot of other things will kill me first... though I did survive the Infantry (bullets do fly when you are having fun - or not), my time as a paramedic, a few close calls with some really 'great' women and a few boughts of alcohol poisoning in college. Not to mention drinking out of rain puddles on a horse trail. Oh yeah, smoking for several years and still when I camp (after the kids are in bed of course... Oh the occasional cigar with dad. Second hand smoke growing up (thanks dad). Bicycle commuting... Oh God, don't forget that!!! The numerous pieces of plastic I ingested. I figure I I make it to 60 I am doing good. If I don't, so be it. Someone has to be on the bad side of the curve.

Oh yeah, my 4 kids skateboard (even my 5 year old girl) in a skate park, my sons and I walked a trail witha good 400 foot drop about 2 inches away over a 10 foot section (sure I was worried), and my son and I are running in a trail race this weekend. Heck, my boys drank out of the same trail puddle I did. They were grinning ear to ear. On top of that, they love there Nalgene bottles!!!

Somehow, I don't know how, they will survive. Maybe a little dumber (to are in the smart kids program so far... the oldest is just like me - MacGyver-esque), a little slower, but they are all grinning from ear to ear and surviving. Shoot, the kids at school are giving JP (the 8 year old) crap and don't believe he is going to do the race. They will see next Monday when he shows up to school in his shirt and numbers with a packet full of pictures laid out in power point and pictures of him taken from behind as he finishes, because Mountain Goat is going to beat my old, delapidated, chemically treated a**.

I can't wait for 'love' to be bad for you. You should see our obituaries in the paper next week.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Polycarbonate research tainted - maybe on 12/11/2007 18:38:29 MST Print View

The whistleblower pictured below has come forth and claimed that the poly research was probably tainted because he and many others that were tested often smoked and got drunk at night after the researchers went home.


Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Polycarbonate controversry on 12/11/2007 20:06:02 MST Print View

Jason, I so agree with you!

This for example could be dangerous:
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

But oh so worth it! For anyone who has hiked the Eagle Creek Trail in Oregon will recognize where that was taken, the trail goes behind a massive waterfall there. Much of the trail for many miles is blasted into a canyon wall. It is wet, covered in moss and 1 1/2 people wide.

Kevin Clayton
(kclayton) - F

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: Re: Polycarbonate controversry on 12/11/2007 20:29:06 MST Print View

I am going to continue to drink out of my nalgene every day until it breaks, if it ever does.
But I think there is a big difference between hiking on a dangerous trail, climbing mountains, sky diving, seeking joy in life through dangerous activities -and exposing yourself to avoidable toxins, or hormones or whatever is in everything in this modern world.
One thing both increases quality of life, and probability of death or injury,
While the other only increases probability of health problems.

Brian James
(bjamesd) - F

Locale: South Coast of BC
Re: Polycarbonate controversry on 12/11/2007 20:44:35 MST Print View

>>>I think there is a big difference between hiking on a dangerous trail, climbing mountains, sky diving, seeking joy in life through dangerous activities -and exposing yourself to avoidable toxins, or hormones or whatever is in everything in this modern world.

>>>One thing both increases quality of life, and probability of death or injury, while the other only increases probability of health problems.

Well-put. Once you lose you health, you don't really have anything else anymore anyway.

Sarah: that is dangerous, but also exhilarating and life-enhancing! What is life-enhancing about refusing to switch plastics?


Edited by bjamesd on 12/11/2007 20:53:53 MST.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Re: Polycarbonate controversry on 12/11/2007 21:08:38 MST Print View

"Sarah: that is dangerous, but also exhilarating and life-enhancing! What is life-enhancing about refusing to switch plastics?"

Simply put for me: I use plastics in moderation. Every year there are studies popping up about how one plastic or another is the evil one. So I thought about it, realized that I use plastics for drinking cold beverages out of at home and on trail. I don't use plastic much beyond that. I thought about it hard and long and realized there is no warranty or guarantee on any plastic type out there, and it just isn't worth the stress worrying about it. It is for me not even a blip on the worry meter.

I worry about other things more that do directly affect my health such as consuming too much sodium, fat or fake colors. I worry about diabetes and glaucoma that runs in my family. I think more about what my chances of a heart attack are due to genetics. I wonder about how toxic my meds are that I take. I wonder more about how much toxins have been put in my teeth in the past 2 years - work that will help prevent diabetes and heart disease in the next couple decades of my life.

Maybe it is me or maybe all the Vicodin I have ingested tonight. Something tells me that Vitamin V is worse for me than drinking out of my PC glass. Still I wonder, what will the implants I am getting in my mouth carry in toxins?

Then I realize that I'll do my best, live as clean as I can and just not worry. And personally accept that I like PC material and find it safe for myself.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Polycarbonate controversy on 12/11/2007 21:53:15 MST Print View


Edited by skopeo on 04/24/2015 00:15:34 MDT.

David Lewis
(davidlewis) - MLife

Locale: Nova Scotia, Canada
Anecdotes on 12/12/2007 15:51:30 MST Print View

Two thoughts...

1. Anecdotes are meaningless.
2. Sarah... you don't like drinking out of glass??? Seems odd. But whatever :)

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Anecdotes on 12/12/2007 16:27:57 MST Print View

Yes, I know it is weird. I prefer straws and or plastic tumblers. I don't like clanging my teeth on glass or metal. Gives me the willies. Same reason I like using Lexan utensils.
As well my front molar dental work has left the teeth cold sensitive, and youch! Glass cups stay cold!

Andrew :-)
(terra) - F

Locale: Sydney, Australia.
. Anecdotes are meaningless. on 12/12/2007 20:02:40 MST Print View

Anecdotes like case studies are usually what start research. They are probably better classed as 'thought provoking, but inconclusive'. This is different to meaningless. :-)

Edited by terra on 12/12/2007 20:04:41 MST.

Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
2nd Candian Retails Stops selling PC Bottles on 12/20/2007 06:39:22 MST Print View

It seems like people are fairly polarized on this topic and have their opinions set. Regardless, I thought I'd share a recent news release.

Second major Canadian retailer stops selling bisphenol A bottles
Environmental Defence congratulates Lululemon for choosing not to sell
bottles with toxic chemical

TORONTO, Dec. 18 /CNW/ - Lululemon became the second large Canadian retailer to stop selling polycarbonate water bottles that leach the toxic chemical, bisphenol A. The decision takes effect in January. With mounting evidence for the chemical's dangers, Lululemon has followed Mountain Equipment Co-op's example in deciding to stock safer alternatives. Environmental Defence applauded Lululemon today for putting their customers' health first. Bisphenol A is currently under review as part of the federal government's Chemicals Management Plan, and the Ontario government recently announced an expert panel will review bisphenol A and other toxic chemicals with a view to regulating them.
"These are the retailers that get it," said Dr. Rick Smith, Executive Director, Environmental Defence. "They recognize that there are alternatives and have made their customers' health the priority. I have no doubt that other
large Canadian retailers will be following suit in short order."
Lululemon and Mountain Equipment Co-op have joined Patagonia in deciding not to sell the hard plastic bottles that leach bisphenol A. The chemical is found in clear reusable water bottles and baby bottles made from polycarbonate, as well as in the linings of some food cans (including infant formula cans).
Two recent panels in the U.S. have pointed to potential health effects of exposure to bisphenol A. The U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health
Sciences expert panel of 38 leading scientists found that most people are exposed to bisphenol A at levels higher than those that cause health effects in animal studies. An expert panel of the U.S. National Toxicology Program
concluded recently that bisphenol A exposure to fetuses and to children could have behavioural and nervous system impacts.
"The dangers of bisphenol A in food and drink are becoming clear, and it won't be long before this chemical is gone completely from food and beverage containers," said Dr. Kapil Khatter, Environmental Defence's Pollution Policy Advisor.
Washington, DC-based Environmental Working Group and Environmental Defence co-released a study recently that found bisphenol A in the linings of all major manufacturers of canned infant formula. Previous studies show that the bisphenol A leaches into the formula. Environmental Defence is working with daycare centres across Canada to remove products containing bisphenol A.
As part of its national Toxic Nation campaign, environmental Defence has tested Canadians and politicians for toxic chemicals in their bodies. Everyone tested for bisphenol A had measurable levels in their blood. Full test results are available online at
About Environmental Defence ( Environmental Defence protects the environment and human health. We research. We educate. We go to court when we have to. All in order to ensure clean air, safe food and thriving ecosystems. Nationwide.

Jonathan Marshall

Locale: Bay Area
More on polycarbonate controversy on 12/26/2007 22:10:45 MST Print View

Here's another new story:

The Water's a Must, but the Bottle Could Be Trouble

Retailers, Regulators and Researchers Wrestle With Whether Polycarbonate Containers Pose Health Risk

By Ben Dobbin
Associated Press, December 25, 2007

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Catching his breath at a fitness club, Matt McHugh took a gulp of water from his trusty Nalgene plastic bottle and pondered the idea of switching to an alternative made of glass, stainless steel or another kind of plastic.

Worries about a hormone-mimicking chemical used in the bottles' construction led a major Canadian retailer to remove polycarbonate containers made by Nalgene and other manufacturers from store shelves in early December.

"It's definitely a concern, but I'd like to learn more before I make any decisions about my water bottles," McHugh, 26, a business manager for a reggae band, said with an easy laugh. "For now, I'll probably keep using my Nalgene until it breaks. It's indestructible, I've heard."

Vancouver-based Mountain Equipment Co-op is waiting for Canadian health regulators to finish a preliminary review in May before it reconsiders restocking its 11 stores with the reusable, transparent bottles made with bisphenol A, or BPA, a compound created by a Russian chemist in 1891.

There is little dispute that the chemical can disrupt the hormonal system, but scientists differ markedly on whether very low doses found in food and beverage containers can be harmful. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration sides with the plastics industry that BPA-based products do not pose a health risk.

But an expert panel of researchers reported at a U.S. government conference that the potential for BPA to affect human health is a concern and that more research is needed. The panel cited evidence that Americans have levels of BPA higher than those found to cause harm in lab animals.

Patagonia, an outdoor-gear retailer based in Ventura, Calif., pulled polycarbonate water bottles from its 40 stores worldwide in December 2005 and, a month later, the Whole Foods Markets chain stopped selling polycarbonate baby bottles and children's drinking cups.

Some environmental groups in the United States and Canada expect others will soon follow suit.

"Given there are comparably priced, greener alternatives, I'm quite convinced that within a couple of years, we're going to see the end of this chemical in consumer products," said Rick Smith, executive director of Toronto-based Environmental Defense Canada.

The controversy turned an unwelcome spotlight on Nalge Nunc International, a division of Waltham, Mass.-based Thermo Fisher Scientific. It employs about 900 people at a plant tucked behind a shopping plaza in the Rochester suburb of Penfield.

"Rarely has a chemical been the subject of such intense scientific testing and scrutiny, and still important agencies across the globe agree that there is no danger posed to humans from polycarbonate bottles," Tom Cummins, a Nalge Nunc research director, said in a statement.

The company declined to allow executives to be interviewed. Its consumer products arm, with estimated sales of $50 million to $65 million, accounts for a fraction of Thermo Fisher's $9.5 billion in annual revenue.

UBS Investment Research analyst Derik De Bruin told investors Nalge Nunc also makes translucent containers made of other, softer plastics such as polyethylene. So even a wider retailer recall of polycarbonate products "would likely have minimal impact on the company," he wrote.

Nalge Nunc was founded in 1949 by Rochester chemist Emanuel Goldberg. The lab-equipment supplier evolved in the 1970s when rumors about its scientists taking hardy lab vessels on weekend outings led to a water-bottle consumer unit targeting Boy Scouts, hikers and campers.

In 2000, a new sports line of Nalgene-brand bottles offered in red, blue and yellow hues quickly became the rage in high schools and on college campuses.

Highly durable and lightweight, resistant to stains and odors, and able to withstand extremes of hot and cold, screw-cap Nalgene bottles are marketed as an environmentally responsible substitute for disposable water bottles. This holiday season, they were offered in new colors such as amber, moss green and vibrant violet.

In this city on Lake Ontario's southern shore, judgments about a long-admired local business were invariably leavened with sympathy.

"Nalgene is the hallmark water bottle for the backcountry," said businessman and skiing enthusiast Rob Norris, 58, as he shopped for a backpack at an Eastern Mountain Sports store.

"I don't have any reservations right now," he said. "To me, it's one of these overreaching things where there's some microscopic particles that could leach out of a piece of plastic. But who knows what's in the water we're drinking?"

But Ellen Guisto, 31, a stay-at-home mother of two, said a growing chorus of concern about the chemical makes her hesitate. "I'm not an alarmist by nature, but if I hear there's a chance that this may cause cancer, I don't think I would use it," she said.

Prompted by a swell of complaints over more than three years, Mountain Equipment -- Canada's largest consumer cooperative, with 2.7 million members -- said it removed mostly polycarbonate water bottles and food containers but left water filters and other products containing the chemical on store shelves. It also will continue to sell Nalgene containers made of other plastics, spokesman Tim Southam said.

In response, the FDA reiterated: "BPA has been used in consumer products for over 50 years. In that time, there has been no evidence that BPA is harmful to humans, either as the result of dietary intake or industrial worker exposures."

With more than 6 million pounds produced in the United States each year, bisphenol A is found in dental sealants, the liners of food cans, CDs and DVDs, eyeglasses, and hundreds of household items.

An expert panel of 38 academic and government researchers who attended a National Institutes of Health-sponsored conference said in a study in August that "the potential for BPA to impact human health is a concern, and more research is clearly needed."

David King
(CoyoteWhips) - F
Motes and Beams on 12/28/2007 06:35:24 MST Print View

I think for those of us with PVC plumbing, the bottle we use for hiking isn't going to make a significant difference.

Edited by CoyoteWhips on 12/28/2007 06:36:23 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: More on polycarbonate controversy on 12/28/2007 13:31:06 MST Print View

> Nalge Nunc was founded in 1949 by Rochester chemist Emanuel Goldberg. The lab-equipment supplier evolved in the 1970s when rumors about its scientists taking hardy lab vessels on weekend outings led to a water-bottle consumer unit targeting Boy Scouts, hikers and campers.

Believe it or not, the research scientist who pushed Nalge into thinking about the outdoors market for their products was ME. I was working for the CSIRO in Australia at the time, and we had all these great looking leakproof containers ... and I convinced the local distributor to start selling them to the gear shops.


Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert about THIS info? on 12/28/2007 21:10:33 MST Print View

Recently on a PBS station I heard a disturbing news report about "soft" plastics used in the U. S. (but made in China)

Reportedly there is an ingredient called THALLITES (spelling may not be correct)that the Chinese - and some U.S. companies - use in making "soft" plastics.

BUT, Chinese-made soft plastics headed to Europe do NOT contain Thallites because the EU won't accept plastics with this carcinogen in them.

Nice work U.S. Consumer Product Safety folks! Geeze, thanks for your great watchdog work...NOT!


Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
More poisons on 12/28/2007 21:52:15 MST Print View