New study: why you should avoid sports water bottles

Deepak Gupta February 14, 2022
Updated 2022/02/14 at 10:38 AM

Many people are regularly active in sports and not only in their own four walls. Whether it’s going to the gym or going on a long bike ride, you often go outside for such activities. And if you want to train properly, you should always have water on hand. It is not uncommon for athletes to use reusable ones sports water bottles from plastic. But a new study now warns of health risks from their use.

Toxic substances in sports water bottles

For their new study, scientists at the University of Copenhagen filled new and heavily used sports drinking bottles with ordinary tap water. Then they left them for 24 hours. They did this before and after a dishwasher run. They analyzed the substances in the water before and after the dishwasher and after rinsing the bottles five times with tap water.

“The machine is the one that loosens most of the soap components from the surfaces,” notes the lead author of the study, Selina Tisler. “But most of the chemicals in the bottle itself remain.” Most of the toxic substances were found after the bottle came out of the dishwasher – possibly because the process softens the plastic and allows more seepage.

Possibly carcinogenic

The researchers were able to identify more than 400 different substances in the water that come directly from the plastic of the sports drinking bottles. In addition, there were more than 3,500 other substances from dishwashing detergent. In fact, most of them are unknown. And even among the known ones, at least 70 percent of them are not clear about their toxicity.

“We were very surprised by the large amount of chemical substances that we found in the bottles after 24 hours,” adds co-author Jan H. Christensen. Hundreds have been discovered that have never been seen in plastic before and others that are potentially harmful to health.

Among the substances found are photoinitiators. These are molecules that are toxic to organisms and potentially also carcinogenic and endocrine disrupting. There are also plastic softeners, antioxidants, solvents and the chemical insect repellent diethyltoluamide (DEET).

Health risk from plastic drinking bottles

The researchers assume that the manufacturers did not intentionally add most of the substances. It is quite possible that they only came about through the production process or through use. For example, a plastic softener can become DEET when it decomposes. “But even for those agents that manufacturers deliberately add, there is only a fraction of the research on toxicity,” Tisler adds.

As a consumer, you therefore have no idea whether the other substances might not have a negative effect on your health. For Christensen, it is therefore important to draw attention to this problem: “We worry so much about small amounts of pesticides in our drinking water. But when we pour water into a container, we undeterred add thousands of substances.”

The health effects of sports drinking bottles have not yet been finally clarified. And these are not the only risks, as other studies show – microplastics are also said to be a risk factor in plastic bottles.

Source: “Non-target screening for the identification of migrating compounds from reusable plastic bottles into drinking water” (2022, Journal of Hazardous Materials)

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