Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have discovered hundreds of chemical compounds in tap water kept in reusable plastic bottles. In certain cases, these compounds may be hazardous to the human body. The scientists who conducted it said that manufacturers need stronger regulation and production standards in the research.
After a time, water might acquire a weird taste when it's been stored in a plastic bottle. There seems to be a sound but alarming explanation for this.
Researchers from the University of Copenhagen have analyzed how popular soft plastic reusable bottles release toxic compounds into the water for the first time. The outcomes came as a complete surprise to everyone involved.
More than 400 different chemicals were found in the bottle plastic and over 3,500 in the dishwashing liquid. Researchers are still trying to figure out what many of these are. However, even among the substances discovered, the toxicity of at least 70% of them is still an open question.
The researchers are concerned about photo-initiators being one of the harmful compounds in the water. Endocrine disruptors and cancer-causing chemicals have been linked to these substances. Diethyltoluamide (DEET), which is the active ingredient in mosquito spray, was also found by researchers. They also found a variety of softeners, antioxidants, and release agents used to make the plastic and DEET.
When the researchers did their experiments, they tried to use plastic bottles the same way that many people do. Many people like to drink water that has been in a bottle for a long time. The researchers left both new and used bottles with tap water for 24 hours. They did this both before and after they had been machine washed and thoroughly rinsed with tap water.
After a second washing, the water in fresh reusable bottles included about 500 different chemicals. These substances came from the plastic itself, more than 100 of them.
Currently, only an estimate of the amounts of the compounds is available, and toxicological studies have not yet been performed, so they cannot say for sure whether or not the water in the bottles is dangerous to human health, researchers say.
The findings of the research were reported in the Journal of Hazardous Materials.
Selina Tisler, Jan H. Christensen, Non-target screening for the identification of migrating compounds from reusable plastic bottles into drinking water, Journal of Hazardous Materials, Volume 429, 2022, 128331, ISSN 0304-3894, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhazmat.2022.128331.