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Is it Safe? Plastic Refillable Water Bottles

October 14, 2014

Q: I use a plastic refillable water bottle to stay hydrated, but are stainless steel bottles better or safer?

A: Let me first say that its great that you are choosing tap water in a refillable bottle to wet your whistle. This is a much more sustainable approach than buying bottled water which leaves a large amount of plastic to dispose as well as transportation costs. Tap water in most locations is just as safe and healthy to drink as bottled water and is preferable over soft drinks or energy drinks. Regarding the bottle itself, there is a benefit to using the stainless steel bottles. They will not leach chemicals into your drinking water. The plastic bottles can contain a wide variety of plasticizers (e.g., phthalates) that can migrate into the water. The longer the water sits in the bottle and the warmer the water gets, the more leaching is possible. Phthalates have a variety of toxic effects including disruption of hormones so it’s a good idea to shift to a stainless steel drinking water bottle if you are using refillable bottles often. The stainless steel bottles are light, durable and sleek and you are setting the example of making a healthier choice. 

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Dr. Gary Ginsberg is a public health toxicologist in Connecticut and a lecturer at the Yale School of Public Health. He has written a book geared toward the general public, “What’s Toxic, What's Not,” and also has a website, whatstoxic.com, to answer questions about chemicals found in consumer products and in our homes.

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The Yale School of Public Health invites you to submit questions for Dr. Ginsberg as part of this recurring monthly series. Contact us through Facebook or by e-mailing Michael Greenwood at michael.greenwood@yale.edu

Submitted by Denise Meyer on October 14, 2014