Endocrine Disruptors in Bottled Water
The Endocrine Disruptors in bottled water people are drinking today will have far reaching health consequences tomorrow.
Single use bottled water might be one of the most popular products in the modern world; a staggering one million water bottles are purchased every minute! 
Researchers have discovered that the chemicals used to make plastic water bottles contaminate the drinking water and, they are toxic.
Two chemicals used to make plastic bottles strong, flexible and transparent are phthalates and bisphenols (BPA
These chemicals are Endocrine Disrupting Compounds, -EDCs.
Other EDCs found in plastic bottles are polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) and tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA)2.
Because these chemicals are not chemically bound to the structure of the plastic they transfer to the bottled water.2, 3
Why Endocrine Disruptors are Toxic
Our endocrine system is a communications network regulated by hormones that are chemical messengers that tell the body what to do.
Phthalates, Bisphenols, PBDE, and TBBPA have similar chemical structures to our body’s hormones .2
Because the chemical structure of the EDC’s is similar to our hormones they will interact and interfere with the endocrine system effecting growth, development, metabolism, and even alter DNA.2
The Health Risks Endocrine Disrupting Compounds
Because the endocrine system plays a crucial role in the development of babies and young children, EDCs can cause severe developmental problems for this vulnerable age group.
EDCs have been linked to miscarriages and decreased cognitive and physical function in young children, and even ADHD.5,7, 8 EDCs can also interfere with puberty.8
Research shows that pregnant women and young children, almost without exception, are exposed to endocrine disruptors daily and that we are only beginning to realise the long term consequences.8
For adults the long-term exposure to EDCs leads to a increased risk of obesity, sterility and cancer.3, 9
There is also evidence EDCs are damaging the reproductive genes in cells that then effects fetal development, and those consequences extend to adulthood.
What we are exposed to today will have consequences on our health tomorrow.
Regulations, Yes. But not Enforceable!
In the U.S., the guidance for the amounts of phthalates in bottled water are set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) but is not enforceable.10
The level set for one kind of phthalate, DEHP, is 0. 006 mg/L.10 The FDA has not set a level for bisphenols such as BPA in food and water packaging.11
Despite the evidence that EDC’c have detrimental to health the FDA deems the current levels of BPA found in food and beverage packaging to be safe.11
There are moves to create bottles without one of the most well-known bisphenols, BPA and you may have seen products advertised as “BPA free”. However, it’s worth noting that the alternate chemicals used are typically a bisphenol compound too.6
Bisphenols are a family of chemicals that have similar structures and properties, so don’t let the label fool you into thinking the product is better, you still have endocrine disruptors in bottled water and other plastic containers.4, 6 the
The evidence is continues to gather that the endocrine disruptors in bottled water are are causing various negative health effects in people of all ages. While it’s extremely difficult to avoid all EDCs we can start by avoiding plastic water bottles.
- Parker, Laura. “How the Plastic Bottle Went from Miracle Container to Hated Garbage.” National Geographic, 18 Oct. 2019, www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/08/plastic-bottles/
- Talsness, Chris E. “Components of Plastic: Experimental Studies in Animals and Relevance for Human Health.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, vol. 364, no. 1526, 2009, pp. 2079–2096. NCBI, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2873015/
- Singh, Sher, and Steven Li. “Epigenetic Effects of Environmental Chemicals Bisphenol A and Phthalates.” International Journal of Molecular Sciences, vol. 13, no. 8, 2012, pp. 10143–10153. NCBI, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3431850/
- Viñas, René, and Cheryl S. Watson. “Bisphenol S Disrupts Estradiol-Induced Nongenomic Signaling in a Rat Pituitary Cell Line: Effects on Cell Functions.” Environmental Health Perspectives, vol. 121, no. 3, 2013, pp. 352–358. NCBI, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3621186/
- Sugiura-Ogasawara, Mayumi. “Exposure to Bisphenol A Is Associated with Recurrent Miscarriage.” Human Reproduction, vol. 20, no. 8, 2005, pp. 2325–2329. Oxford Academic, academic.oup.com/humrep/article/20/8/2325/618455
- Wagner, Martin, and Jörg Oehlmann. “Endocrine Disruptors in Bottled Mineral Water: Total Estrogenic Burden and Migration from Plastic Bottles.” Environmental Science and Pollution Research, vol. 16, no. 3, 2009, pp. 278–286. Springer Link, link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11356-009-0107-7
- Téllez-Rojo, Martha M. “Prenatal Urinary Phthalate Metabolites Levels and Neurodevelopment in Children at Two and Three Years of Age.” Science of The Total Environment, vol. 461-462, 2013, pp. 386–390. NCBI, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3735862/
- Braun, Joseph M. “Phthalate Exposure and Childrenʼs Health.” Current Opinion in Pediatrics, vol. 25, no. 2, 2013, pp. 247–254. NCBI, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3747651/
- Manikkam, Mohan. “Plastics Derived Endocrine Disruptors (BPA, DEHP and DBP) Induce Epigenetic Transgenerational Inheritance of Obesity, Reproductive Disease and Sperm Epimutations.” PLoS ONE, vol. 8, no. 1, 2013. NCBI, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3554682/
- Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “SECG on Bottled Water Quality Standard.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, 2018, www.fda.gov/regulatory-information/search-fda-guidance-documents/small-entity-compliance-guide-establishing-allowable-level-di2-ethylhexylphthalate-bottled-water
- Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “Bisphenol A (BPA): Use in Food Contact Application.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, 2018, www.fda.gov/food/food-additives-petitions/bisphenol-bpa-use-food-contact-application
About the author:
Kristine Wagner MHS, CPH
Kristine holds a Master of Health Science in Environmental Health and a Certificate in Risk Science from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is a Certified in Public Health Professional by the NBPHE.
She was a Strategic Information Fellow at the U.S. Embassy in Rwanda supporting HIV/AIDS programs in conjunction with the CDC. She worked as a health scientist at Cardno ChemRisk.
As a student, she conducted environmental health research related to oil development in the Ecuadorian Amazon and wrote her graduate thesis on drinking water contamination from hydraulic fracturing.
Kristine is also a professional scuba diving instructor (PADI MSDT) and worked as a diver in Mexico, Thailand, and Turks & Caicos. She also speaks Spanish and French.