Friday, July 30, 2010

Bottled water - what are you really drinking?

You can be forgiven for your confusion arising from the myriad of bottled water now available on the market. Perhaps there is some merit in choosing the one with the mountain on the label – it’s from a natural pristine source or is it? There is a general consensus amongst bottled water drinkers that it is healthier and safer than tap water. There are several issues associated with bottled water that warrant discussion:

Source of water
Bottled water comes from either a natural source such as a spring or well OR from an approved potable municipal supply (tap water). History shows that natural sources are susceptible to periodical contamination from pollutants generated from agriculture (pesticides, fertilisers, and nitrates), industrial contaminants, algae blooms and bacterial issues. Just look at the worldwide recall of Perrier bottles in 1990 due to high benzene (a carcinogen) levels. Regular testing is crucial.

Microbial growth
Your saliva harbours bacteria that can grow in the plastic itself. As such, it is important that you do not reuse plastic PET water bottles.

Environmental concerns
Whilst PET (polyethylene terephtalate) bottles are 100% recyclable AND that Australians have one of the best participation recycling rates in the world (good on us!), in reality, only around 37% is actually recycled (ABWI, 2004; Vic EPA, 2006)

Plastic bottles
Polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE) is the most commonly used plastic for disposable water bottles. It is 100% recyclable, does not impart a taste into the water and unlike PVC and polystyrene, does not leach hormone altering chemicals aka phthalates into the water. However recent reports indicates that phthalates maybe found in some PET bottles if they have been recycled from personal care products (Pinto and Reali, 2009). A better alternative is to use glass (I love the Grolsch beer bottles with the flip cap), or stainless steel).

You pay up to 2,000 times more per litre of bottled water than you would if you filtered your own tap water. This is one way you can save money...

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Plastic Baby Bottles - Are Any Safe?

In 2006 heavily pregnant with twins, I waddled my way to the baby bottle section of the local baby store; surely this was going to be an easy purchase. In and out – or so my husband thought as he patiently waited in the car. Despite the number of shelves that greeted me upon my arrival, I soon realised they were all made of plastic. As a naturopath and building biologist my instincts were to go for glass, but the sales assistant informed me she’d have to order them in. I subsequently bought two plastic bottles and ordered two glass bottles anyway. Not content that plastic was the way to go, I subsequently embarked on a ‘quick’ search on the internet only to find that the mounting evidence against polycarbonate baby bottles was already in full swing. Weeks passed as I peered through scientific journals. The outlook on plastic baby bottles was pretty grim, even in 2006. Even the safety of BPA free plastic baby bottles is a concern. This article is about what I found. Find out more: Plastic Baby Bottles, Are they Safe

About Nicole Bijlsma

I am a building biologist which in short means I conduct audits of people’s homes to see if they are affecting their health. Previously I worked for 15 years as a naturopath and acupuncturist and lectured extensively at various institutions before realising the extent to which the home was causing illness in many of my patients. I am the founder of the Australian College of Environmental Studies and author of Healthy Home Healthy Family. In my blog, we’ll explore issues relating to hazards in the home.

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