A question about plastic
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Christopher *
(cfrey.0) - M

Locale: US East Coast
A question about plastic on 09/02/2013 23:44:53 MDT Print View

I have been researching plastic and its role in my outdoor activities (including cooking) ... and I find myself even more baffled than before.

Within the past 2 years I have become a practitioner of freezer bag cooking. Additionally I typically mix my VIA with recently boiled hot water in a small 500ml water bottle. (I don't carry a separate cup.) I like long distance trekking, so I am typically engaged in this behavior for several weeks if not months at a time.

I read that even the BPA free variety of plastic can leech contaminants if warmed or even just exposed to the UV of the sun ... conditions I routinely expose my plastic bottles to in the course of daily hiking, let alone meal preparation. Obviously my freezer bags are exposed to water at elevated temperature as a matter of function.

So my questions to this learned and astute community ... what is the scoop on plastic?

Are the warnings trumped up? (I don't see many titanium water bottles on the trail.)
Is exposing a plastic bottle to water at temperatures just shy of boiling more dangerous than the average daily exposure to sun and heat on the side of my pack?
Should I keep my water bottles hidden from sunlight?
Should I change them out more regularly as I resupply in-town?
Is one brand of bottled water better than another regarding their use of plastic?
Are my FBC bags slowly killing me?

Edited by cfrey.0 on 09/02/2013 23:53:31 MDT.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: A question about plastic on 09/02/2013 23:48:51 MDT Print View

If you are a laboratory rat, I would worry. Other than that, there are probably more pressing issues in life to worry about.

just Justin Whitson
(ArcturusBear)
Re: A question about plastic on 09/03/2013 00:26:31 MDT Print View

To some extent it depends on conditions. Generally the more warmth, the more leaching of nasty chemicals that interfere with your endocrine gland system, which btw is no minor thing IF it's a chronic exposure thing as it is with most.

One of the only plastics commonly used so far that has been extensively tested that doesn't leech any harmful chemical is Tritan. It's the only one i re-use now. I have a Stanley bottle made out of it. It's also extremely strong and tough otherwise. At one point i did a lot of research on this stuff.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: A question about plastic on 09/03/2013 01:36:37 MDT Print View

For the most part, it is all inane urban myth.

> I read that even the BPA free variety of plastic can leech contaminants if warmed
And I read that some people have been abducted by aliens.

Problems with the statement (about plastics, that is):
WHICH plastic???? There are tens of thousands of utterly different sorts.
Most if not all food grade plastics do not contain 'contaminants' of any sort. PET, which is used for all sorts of bottles, is just PET - no 'contaminants' at all. Freezer bags are polyethylene: just polyethylene, no contaminants.
There was a scare about BPA in Lexan, but the risk was really only to the workers at the plant. But the scare sure boosted sales of other sorts of water bottles for a year or two as people rushed to replace their perfectly safe Lexan bottles.

> Is exposing a plastic bottle to water at temperatures just shy of boiling more
> dangerous than the average daily exposure to sun and heat on the side of my pack?
Yes and no. Boiling water may cause the plastic to melt down and lose shape. No danger to you, except of getting boiling water all over your hands.

> Should I keep my water bottles hidden from sunlight?
The sun light won't hurt the plastic, but it might cause fungal growth in the water.

> Should I change them out more regularly as I resupply in-town?
I do - about every 2 -3 years. They get scuffed. I like them shiny.

> Is one brand of bottled water better than another regarding their use of plastic?
Actually, most brands of bottled water are no better than the town supply - and sometimes measurably worse. The whole bottled water industry is one vast rip-off. CocaCola Amatil will fervently disagree of course - but they want your money.

> re my FBC bags slowly killing me?
Geez mate, I dunno. How many bags do you eat a day? I know they aren't good for the mid-ocean sea birds that swallow them.

Hope this helps
Cheers

Marc Eldridge
(meld) - MLife

Locale: The here and now.
Re: "A question about plastic" on 09/03/2013 07:32:11 MDT Print View

Not backpacker friendly, and off topic, but interesting with respect to which is worse, plastic leaching into the water or the bugs in the water that can make you sick.



http://www.irinnews.org/report/79172/benin-sunshine-plastic-bottle-clean-water

Christopher *
(cfrey.0) - M

Locale: US East Coast
Re: Re: A question about plastic on 09/09/2013 19:12:26 MDT Print View

So ... just to be clear on this ... as long as my water bottles are made from PET plastic (#1), I should have no real concerns? Even in the context of boiling water directly and repeatedly in contact with the plastic bottle.

Thanks for the advice.

Cheers

just Justin Whitson
(ArcturusBear)
Re: Re: Re: A question about plastic on 09/11/2013 19:00:42 MDT Print View

Chris, it would make sense for you and people in general to more rely on your own research rather than relying on just what others tell you. Different people will tell you different things based on their interpretations, perceptions, biases, etc.

Edited by ArcturusBear on 09/11/2013 19:01:40 MDT.

James Klein
(jnklein21) - M

Locale: Southeast
Re: Re: Re: Re: A question about plastic on 09/11/2013 19:23:32 MDT Print View

Oh, do you think "doing research" means you get away from "interpretations, perceptions, biases, etc"?

Unless you have good access to peer review journals and very specialized knowledge and a very keen insight and very much free time matters such as these can prove to be a very inexact process.

I think it is fine he asked for the opinions here. At some point it does make since to build of the base others have formed.

just Justin Whitson
(ArcturusBear)
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A question about plastic on 09/11/2013 20:43:51 MDT Print View

Not necessarily, but at least they will be more his own. Also, i'm not saying don't listen to others at all, but people at BPL might not be the best resource for that. Sites, groups, and individuals involved in such research and studies would make more sense.

I listen to people with hiking, gear, etc, experience all the time here about various hiking and gear related issues, but chemical leeching of plastic, nah most of us are not experts by any means.

Edited by ArcturusBear on 09/11/2013 20:44:21 MDT.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: A question about plastic on 09/11/2013 22:12:00 MDT Print View

We smell and taste things because their particles are present. If you can smell or taste your plastic you're ingesting some. Plastic bags are not an oxygen barrier either. I hate how everything can taste like the strongest flavored thing in your bag. Like coffee. or soap. Yuck.