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Bisphenol A, Plastic Bottles, Poisoning Ourselves Each Hike?
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Perrin Lindelauf
(kalten) - F

Locale: Who Knows - Can't Read the Signs
Bisphenol A, Plastic Bottles, Poisoning Ourselves Each Hike? on 04/11/2007 08:39:12 MDT Print View

This chemical, Bisphenol A, has shown up on my radar recently, first through this article:

(sorry couldn't get the hotlink to work)

Basically, the debate is about whether this chemical, which leaches into water from PET bottles, is toxic or not. Independent scientists say yes. The plastics board and manufacturers say no. Part of the controversy seems to come from the fact that BPA acts like a wannabe hormone, and accordingly, it does more damage at low levels than at high levels (which have the opposite effect on hormone receptor sites).

By damage, the research suggests that BPA scrambles the cells in fetuses, causes breast and prostate cancer, as well as down syndrome etc. The doctors in the article were saying that they weren't waiting for a ban: they were removing all plastic from their homes and anticipating a legal battle akin to the "tobacco doesn't cause cancer" one.

This makes me nervous. Nalgene mentions BPA on its site and says it isn't dangerous. Platypus doesn't mention anything (I emailed them), but I am beginning to suspect that most plastics are made with BPA.

So two questions:

1) Have you heard of this / are you concerned?

2) If, in fact, BPA is a carcinogen, what are our options for carrying water into the bush?

Edited by kalten on 04/11/2007 08:41:50 MDT.

Steve Robinson
(Jeannie) - F
Re: Bisphenol A, Plastic Bottles, Poisoning Ourselves Each Hike? on 04/11/2007 10:11:42 MDT Print View

My wife and I have been very concerned about this issue as well. For day hikes/car trips we've gone to stainless steel. We got the following response from Cascade Designs:


Our Platypus line uses two layers of Bi-axially oriented nylon on the outside and an ultra linear low density polyethylene taste free liner. There are no BPA's (Bisphenol-A) present in our bags.

The ULLDPE inner (water contact) lining as well as hose lining are DEHP(phthalate) free and comply with FDA regulation 21 CFR 177.1520. The BON outer layer complies with FDA 21 CFR 177.1500, and the adhesive that bonds the two together complies with FDA regulation 21 CFR 175.105.
They can handle temperatures from below freezing to boiling as well as hand or machine washing with off the shelf detergents without the plastics leaching any toxins.

I hope this helps,
Aaron Kahle
Cascade Designs Inc.
4225 2nd Ave. South

Phthalates are also another issue and in all sorts of stuff and plastics including shampoo, lotions etc.

Perrin Lindelauf
(kalten) - F

Locale: Who Knows - Can't Read the Signs
Re: Bisphenol A, Plastic Bottles, Poisoning Ourselves Each Hike? on 04/11/2007 17:29:26 MDT Print View

I got a similar message from Platypus. Does anyone know about the safety of plastic utensils such as the light my fire sporks?

Is the real concern just with cheap PET drink bottles?

Brett .
(Brett1234) - F

Locale: CA
Bisphenol A on 04/11/2007 20:59:34 MDT Print View

Perin, Steve,
I inquired regarding Platypus bottles and got the same emailed response. As a scientist I am willing to accept the premise that bisphenol A is a carcinogen, and remove it from my food chain, but I haven't read anything I would consider valid evidence.
Perin, thanks for that link, but that article is internally contraditory, and simply wrong about other facts. It statest that Bisphenol A "scrambles eggs" (whatever that means), but then when the article has the chance to quote the study findings, egg damage is not among them. It also mentions huge increases in breast cancer (supposedly due to B.A.) when in fact breast cancer has been in steady decline in all age groups since 1990. See here for report:

When the risk of bisphenol A rises above the noise level, and rises above the level of risks I accept in other activities/foods/drinks, I will definitely remove it from my diet. Thank you both for starting this discussion.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Re: Bisphenol A, Plastic Bottles, Poisoning Ourselves Each Hike? on 04/11/2007 21:00:52 MDT Print View

Take a look over at They have some interesting articles to read on the matters. Basically, there is some truth in all the hype out there-but really, it isn't a huge risk when you look at the big picture. We use plastics in many areas in our lives, even in ways we are not aware of. Do take a look! It will help you feel safer about choices we face daily.

Rob Blazoff
(Genetic) - F

Locale: Out back, brewing beer in BPA.
Bad science. on 08/13/2007 01:18:35 MDT Print View

The See air Ah club report by Hunt stating, "If we wait for really hard evidence in humans, it will be too late..." made me fall out of my chair. Never mind evidence, just do as I say.

Another problem I have with the ENTIRE topic is the idea that you would wash lexan with "a harsh detergent not ordinarily used for that purpose."
When a petroleum solvent meets a petroleum based product what do we expect to happen? I'll wash my plastic bladders and bottles with elbow grease and a bottle brush, thank you.

Cue the lemmings.

I'll step off my soapbox.
1. I have heard of this. I am not concerned.
2. Sigg bottles or Kleen Canteens.

Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Re: Bisphenol A, Plastic Bottles, Poisoning Ourselves Each Hike? on 08/13/2007 22:07:00 MDT Print View

You (or the article) got it wrong. Bisphenol A can leach out from polycarbonate (PC), not PET. Lexan is a commercial brand of PC. PET is actually a very clean plastic as compared to others...that is to say that there are not many additives, and not many things leach out.

Bisphenol is definitely a endocrine disruptor, meaning it acts as an artificial hormone (e.g., alligator penile size studies). Also, Bisphenol A has been shown to leach from PC. The question is whether the amount of Bisphenol A that typically comes out of baby bottle, Nalgene bottles (not all are PC), and 5-gallon water bottles is enough to cause problems. The main problem is thought to be with babies and pregnant women since infants are still developing, and these hormones can have large effects. The chemical is thought to pass through the uterine wall to the baby. Adults are able to counter these imbalances to some degree, and their bodies are past puberty.

Here is a link that discusses this topic. I can't vouch for the info in it. One of the big questions is whether very small concetrations can cause problems. That part of the argument is hotly debated. A recent study came out that states this is not a problem...however, there have been big lankmark studies that come out every few years on both sides of this issue.

I talked with a research at Case Western Reserve University (Prof. Patricia Hunt), and she shared some interesting comments with me. I'm not sure what the final answer will be, but there is enough data to make me look for alternatives.

Of course, smoking probably does more harm that bisphenol A. Grilling meat and cooking other foods at high temperatures can also create compiunds that have been linked to potential health issues.

I recommend keeping things in proportion.

Joshua Mitchell
(jdmitch) - F

Locale: Kansas
Another non-plastic bottle... on 08/14/2007 12:43:16 MDT Print View

Guyout Designs SS Bottles

Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Internal Bottle Coating on 08/16/2007 03:51:54 MDT Print View

Yeah, those bottles use metal, but what is the coating on the inside? I don't mean to dismiss your option or to say a priori that the bottles are bad, but some studies have shown migration of compounds from the internal coatings. Many of the current coatings are epoxy resins, based on bisphenol A. The other part is proving whether the compounds are harmful or not.

Joshua Mitchell
(jdmitch) - F

Locale: Kansas
Re: Internal Bottle Coating on 08/16/2007 07:25:49 MDT Print View

The aluminum bottle are the only ones that may be coated, the SS bottles are untreated / coated.

BTW - You're links are about FOOD containers... not metal water bottles. Metal isn't coated by default, there are numerous reasons why SOME foods are sealed in coated cans (many are in cans that are uncoated). You're concerns would be much more applicable the the discussion of whether or not to use a Beer Can as a pot than to whether metal water bottles are safe.

BTW2 - Realize this is no attack on you, but this kind of 'linkage' is exactly how FUD is spread.

Edited by jdmitch on 08/16/2007 07:29:17 MDT.

Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Re: Re: Internal Bottle Coating on 08/16/2007 18:32:54 MDT Print View

This is good discussion. People much smarter than me have been debating these issues. It's a good opportunity to learn something.

I didn't look at what the company said about coating. I had assumed that these were "beverage" bottles, which could hold water, wine, whiskey, etc., and might have some coating. It makes sense that there is no coating on these. Thank you for correcting me.

Back to the original post...I don't think the allowable limits of harmful compounds were based on someone drinking out of a "questionable plastic container" for only ~5 weekends out of the year, or for one thru-hike every 20 years. Also, the compounds will come out more quickly at elevated temperatures (i.e, pasturization or retort) and in the presence of agressive cleaning agents. That probably rules out most of us hiking slobs. Hard to believe that you need to select your water based on this concern.

Tim Zen
(asdzxc57) - F

Locale: MI
BPA & Tritan, and more reasons not to use plastic on 04/04/2014 07:34:24 MDT Print View

New article in
it is not just BPA, even Tritan is an estrogen disrupter.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: BPA & Tritan, and more reasons not to use plastic on 04/04/2014 07:55:52 MDT Print View

More specific link

That's what I was wondering - are BPA replacements just as bad, just not studied as much?

They said BPA and replacements can leach into fluids even at cold temperatures

Difficult to figure whether this risk is significant or not. It's worse for children especially before they're born.

Food cans typically have BPA linings, or similar chemicals. If you heat water in them you're asking for trouble. Worse for children. Hard to determine if risk is significant though.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: Re: BPA & Tritan, and more reasons not to use plastic on 04/04/2014 08:58:16 MDT Print View

Most chemicals are virtually unstudied. The EPA backlog is a toxicologist's nightmare (or wet dream, I suppose, depending on your POV). The day is long past when potently toxic substances were readily identifiable. You can't go into a drugstore and buy ars3nic or chloroform anymore. Newer chemicals act more subtly. Even for chemicals we do have toxicology data on, it's generally very basic (LD50, etc) and tells you nothing about the mechanisms by which it affects the body or long term effects.

I still have and use my old Nalgenes, which I'm begining to think is not the stupidest thing I've ever done.

Register receipt tapes are coated in BPA, btw. Even if it's not in your water bottles, you're almost certainly exposed to it daily.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Re: BPA & Tritan, and more reasons not to use plastic on 04/04/2014 10:44:02 MDT Print View

"Register receipt tapes are coated in BPA, btw."

THERMAL printer receipts. And while most receipt printers are thermal, not all are.

I never take them.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: BPA & Tritan, and more reasons not to use plastic on 04/04/2014 12:19:45 MDT Print View

Enjoy carrying US made mason jars while you hike ;-) Hahhah....

In all seriousness: Your carpeting in your home is much worse for you than the bottle you sip out of a few times a year.

David Gardner
(GearMaker) - M

Locale: Northern California
BPA in Foster's Cans on 04/04/2014 14:46:14 MDT Print View

BPA lining is the industry standard for soda and beer cans. Various brewers have acknowledged the same, and Coca Cola's web site states the following:

"Aluminum can liners that use BPA are the industry standard and have been used safely for more than 50 years."

The fact that we may be exposed to BPA from other sources is just one more reason to avoid it when we "can." (Pun intended.)

One thing is for certain: whatever you believe about BPA's safety, if the BPA is removed from the can then there is no possibility of exposure.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: BPA & Tritan, and more reasons not to use plastic on 04/04/2014 14:53:56 MDT Print View

The rumour mills grind on... We seem to love scare stories more than facts.

To be sure, if there are certain chemicals present in food or water in concentrations of 'parts per thousand', they may be harmful to you. But what about 'parts per million'? And these days we can often detect down to 'parts per billion'. You might be getting more of the 'contaminant' in dust or the air you are breathing.

Some known bugs like legionella and salmonella are extremely dangerous in air and food - at a high concentration. But they also exist in our environment at low concentrations all the time, without doing us any harm at all.

It has been said that a major part of the great BPA scare was the perceived commercial benefit to some companies of getting everyone to suddenly replace all their Lexan water bottles with something else. I am quite willing to believe that too.


Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: BPA in Foster's Cans on 04/04/2014 20:32:05 MDT Print View

The FDA requires the use of a liner in certain foods, such as tomatoes, that contains BPA. Why? The cans don't get eaten at by the acids in the food inside the can. For anyone who remembers back in the day, cans used to bulge and go bad way more than they do now. Said liners do have their good points......

Glenn S

Locale: Snowhere, MN
Re: Re: BPA in Foster's Cans on 04/04/2014 22:28:48 MDT Print View

Have people given up on ingredients labels? I'm more concerned about what's IN the can than what's ON it.

As far as water bottles, it's mostly myth. Besides, how long do people plan on storing water in them? I drink mine before all this "leeching" has a chance to occur.

Of course if you watch enough YouTube, you can find out how to boil water in a plastic bottle over an open fire, and I don't think I'd recommend that trick!