A new research paper notices that drinking from plastic bottles increases in at least 70% the exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical that causes serious hormonal alterations but is nevertheless allowed for use in the food and beverages industry and is massively used.
J.L. Carwile et al. Use of Polycarbonate Bottles and Urinary Bisphenol A Concentrations. EHP, 2009. Freely available.
A divulgative synthesis of this paper can be found at Science Daily.
The volunteers drank for a week only from glass in order to minimize their exposure to BPA, then they proceeded to drink cold liquids from these plastic bottles for the same time. Urine samples in this second phase had 69% more BPA than in the first phase. The authors note that would the bottles have contained hot liquids or being themselves heated, as is usual with baby bottles, the amount of ingested BPA should be much higher.
BPA is used in most food industry packages, notably plastics of the 3 (PVC) and 7 (others) recycle categories. While acute toxicity is low it does seem clear that chronic exposure to this material, even in small doses, causes serious hormonal disruptions, as has been found in many studies. In animals at least it does cause alterations in genitals, reduction of gender differences, greater risk of prostate and breast cancer, early puberty, etc.
In spite of all these worrisome effects governments are not taking any action as of yet.