Dangers of Plastic Bottles

Whether you drink Coke, Pepsi, Gatorade, or any of hundreds of possible beverage choices, the chances are you will drink it from a plastic bottle. From baby bottles to cleaning products, and of course beverages, Americans consume 2 million bottles every 5 min.(Palliser 2010) These bottles are made from a petroleum-based chemical known as polyethylene terephthalate (PET), and in the past few years researchers and scientists have begun to look into the impact these kinds of chemicals have on the health of the people. (Palliser) While everyone knows there are natural environmental dangers associated with these plastic bottles, there are also serious health dangers associated with the use of these bottles. Scientists have found dangerous toxins associated with the use of plastic bottles; and these toxins have been found to cause serious health problems in humans. This essay will discuss the dangers associated with plastic bottles; emphasizing the dangers on people's health from toxins associated with the use of plastic bottles.

Plastic bottles are light, durable, inexpensive, and everywhere. Americans spend almost $12 billion on the production of plastic bottles each year, and the number continues to rise. While the production of plastic bottles in the United States creates 2.5 million tons of CO2 which is released into the atmosphere. (Palliser) And out of all these plastic bottles, only 20%-30% ever get recycled, the rest end up in landfills where it takes a plastic bottle an average of 1000 years to degrade. The problem lies in the chemical makeup of the PET, the chemical which plastic is made from, and biphenyl A, a waste product from the formation of PET which often contaminates the plastic.

Bisphenyl A (BPA) is one of the primary toxins which researchers have found to be associated with the production of plastics. (Van Meter 2009) When used as containers and bottles, plastics laced with bisphenyl A can contaminate the foods and liquids which are inside. It would appear that the "chemical links that make up the BPA in plastics and other products don't remain linked. They degrade over time and end up inhaled or ingested during the normal course of life" (Belli 2010) But these chemical links do not necessarily degrade at a constant rate, researchers around the world have demonstrated that heating plastics, particularly in the microwave, can increase the level of toxins released. (Duck Soo Lim 2009) (Skjevrak 2005) The BPA then can enter the human body through food, drinks, or inhaling dust particles. (Splete 2008) And, once inside the human body it can cause a variety of disorders. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences described BPA as "…a highly prevalent constituent of plastics that has since been associated with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and an increased risk of miscarriages in humans." (Allard 2010) And this view of the effects of biphenyl A (BPA) is common among the scientific community, for instance, researcher Heidi Splete, in the article "Bisphenol A exposure linked to disease in Adults" found a direct link between high percentages of BPA found in the urine of subjects and higher percentages of both heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. (Splete) Other scientists have discovered other disturbing links between elevated levels of BPA in test subjects and health disorders in humans. Both low sperm count and higher levels of prostate cancers were also found to be associated with high levels of BPA in men; while infertility and the early onset of puberty were found in women. (Belli 2010)

The continued use of plastic bottles will require humans to balance the possible dangers with the practical uses of these containers. Plastics are light, and since liquids are heavy, the lack of extra weight makes them perfect containers for carrying liquids. Plastics are inexpensive, making the items produced from them, particularly bottles, affordable to the common person. Plastics also can perform activities that other materials cannot, such as purifying water. The World Health Organization currently is engaged in their SODIS (SOlar water DISinfection) project which is promoting the use of clear plastic bottles as a means of water purification. It would seem…