This is an email I received a while back. It got me pretty concerned since PET bottles are what I usually use to store drinking and cooking water for lack of other means. For most of us – students and working people, it is inconvenient to purchase proper vessels to store water in the little rented places we stay in. I forwarded the email to everyone on my mailing list since I didn’t want any of my friends to get unwell just out of sheer ignorance. However, my curiosity was piqued and I decided to cross-check on the authenticity of mail. Just a little way through my research I realized that I had made the same mistake as all those before me.
What I found got a load off my mind but also got me pretty angry at people who forward hoax emails. I dug-up quite a number of websites all highlighting the same fact – PET Bottles are very safe for re-use.
Plastics Info – a site which offers diverse information on plastic-ware to make living with plastics easier, has an entire section of FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) devoted to this topic. The FAQs there are excellent and help in dispelling the myth about “unsafe” plastic bottles on a strong scientific basis. They also help in easing away the paranoia that befalls such email-hoax victims.
Yes, plastic bottles do cause harm but not at all the way these emails would like us to believe. Clean plastic bottles are perfectly safe for reuse since plastics are by nature highly sanitized materials. The only way they can become a health hazard is if somehow bacteria gets introduced to it. Then again, all drinking or storage vessels can be rendered harmful the same way regardless of their material and type. Consumers must clean all plastic drinking containers with ‘hot soapy water’ between usage.
But that brings us to the most important question.
Will a plastic bottle leach harmful substances into water if we reuse it?
Most convenience-size beverage bottles sold in the U.S. are made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET). The FDA has determined that PET meets standards for food-contact materials established by federal regulations and therefore permits the use of PET in food and beverage packaging for both single use and repeated use. FDA has evaluated test data that simulate long-term storage and that support repeated use.
The toxicological properties of PET and any compounds that might migrate under test conditions have also been well studied. The results of these tests demonstrate that PET is safe for its intended uses. (For details, see The Safety of Polyethylene Terephthalate.)
The objective of writing this article is not only to make my readers aware of the harmless nature of the PET bottles – but to take a strong stance against all such email hoaxes. It really surprises me at how nonchalantly people go around spreading such misinformation without ever bothering to find out the truth behind it. Instead of being of any real help, such information simply serves to spread paranoia, mental anguish and endless unwanted trouble for its readers. As a regular internet user and a fellow netizen, I request of all those who forward emails regularly to kindly check the validity and source of the information you are about to spread. Not just the ones regarding health but also the ones that might disrupt a reader’s peace of mind.