Katherine: Bottling up the Facts

By Katherine Friedrich
Communications volunteer for The Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow

I’m ending a three-year relationship with my water bottle. We were very close for a while. But it became clear that our relationship was based on appearances, not on honesty. My water bottle’s transparent façade concealed an unnerving secret.

I bought this cute yellow bottle while I was losing weight. I’ve lost 40 pounds in the past three years by making long-term lifestyle changes. Along the way, I developed a habit of exercising around four hours per week. During a difficult exercise class, I can drink more than a full bottle of water in 50 minutes. So my water bottle isn’t an optional accessory.

After relying on my water bottle for years, I thought I could trust it. But when people buy water bottles in the United States, neither federal nor state governments require that companies tell customers what they could really be drinking. There was no chemical safety label on that cute yellow bottle.

When I began blogging for The Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow, I read reports on product safety to get ideas for our messaging. That was how I found out my water bottle carried a secret from its days at the factory. The bottle is made of polycarbonate, a hard plastic. Bisphenol-A can seep from polycarbonate bottles into the drinks they contain. And bisphenol-A can contribute to obesity.

That’s right. Drinking from my water bottle could cause exactly the same problem that I was working to overcome. Bisphenol-A can disrupt hormone functioning and increase testosterone. High testosterone in women is linked to polycystic ovarian syndrome, which also causes weight gain. That’s a double whammy.

The ingredients in my water bottle have the potential to counteract my weight loss efforts. That’s both surprising and ironic, given how many people are drinking water from polycarbonate bottles while trying to lose weight.

I’m replacing my water bottle with a safer substitute – a metal canteen. The canteen is a “thank you for volunteering” present from Cindy Luppi at Clean Water Action.

That isn’t the only plastic bottle on my list, though. There is much more work to be done before we can rest assured that we are making safer choices.

As Congress modernizes United States chemical safety laws, we should make sure that agencies coordinate their efforts. You can make your voice heard by contacting your legislators about the Toxic Substances Control Act. And stay tuned here at the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow for regular news and alerts.