Plastic water bottles are all around us: no matter if we use disposable or reusable ones. Yet, recently, these plastic products are having a bad fame, as people associate them not only to excessive waste, environmental pollution, and carbon footprint, but also to potential health issues, like toxicity and organ harm. Besides, the term “BPA” has been flying around for some time, giving hints about the health impact of using plastic bottles.
But what is BPA? Why using plastic bottles can be bad for you? Are all kinds of plastic harmful?
This article will guide you through the answers of these questions and will show you how to avoid plastic bottles that can be harmful to you.
Let’s get started!
Are plastic bottles bad for you?
Usually, plastic bottles are not categorized by the degree of their safety. However, according to an investigative report by ORB Media, the majority of plastic bottles release microplastics into the liquids that are stored in them. More specifically, the research looked at 250 bottles from 11 brands, and found out that, averagely, the studied liquids contained 10.4 plastic particles per liter. 
As those tiny plastic pieces are actually mixed with the liquids, the consumers end up ingesting these particles. This raises concerns about the safety of using plastic bottles to store liquids, as well as the degree of safety of plastic ingestion and the health effects that this may cause.
Furthermore, a 2003-2004 survey conducted by the Center of Disease Control and Prevention looked at urine samples of 2517 people. The results showed significant levels of Bisphenol A (chemical used for production of plastics) in 93% of the samples. 
What is BPA and how might you be exposed to it?
Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical that is used for the production of plastics and epoxy resins for food and drink packaging. It is not only found in plastic bottles, but also in metal cans and containers, as it’s used for the protective lining of those packages.
BPA is used to make bottles and containers harder and more resistant. That is why it’s widely used in bottle production to ensure longer shelf life and stronger protection from external factors.  However, with time and temperature changes, BPA is released from the packaging into the food/liquids and eventually ends up in our bodies (through ingestion of the chemical with foods/drinks). 
That being said, currently, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers the use of BPA for production of food containers and bottles safe. However, since 2012 the institution officially banned the use of BPA for production of baby bottles and sippy cups.
Nonetheless, the main exposure to BPA is still caused by foods and drinks stored in plastic bottles and food containers, as well as by canned foods.
Why is BPA bad for your health?
Although used legally, the ingestion of BPA raises significant concerns and the US National Library of Medicine define it as endocrine disruptor.  According to the source, BPA exposure can lead to:
- Changes in physical and mental development of children and infants
- Changes in fetus development (in pregnant women)
- Hormonal imbalance/ Abnormal hormone production
- Changes/issues affecting the reproductive system
In addition, a 2015 study conducted by the Department of Clinical and Experimental Endocrinology in the Medical University of Gdańsk suggests that the ingestion of BPA through foods and drinks stored in plastic and metal containers may cause significant changes in estrogen receptors and could lead to the following health conditions  :
- Infertility (both male and female). This can be due to the over-or underproduction of estrogen, which may result in hormonal imbalance.
- Reduced number of spermatozoids in ejaculation.
- Hormone-dependent tumors (such as breast and prostate cancer). BPA has been shown to play a role in the formation of such cancerous tumors, or in complications of cancer treatment.
- Metabolic disorders (including Polycystic Ovaries Syndrome-PCOS). Hormonal imbalance caused by BPA may result in complications of metabolic syndrome-related health conditions.
- Precocious puberty: early puberty that has active symptoms before the age of 8 in girls, and before the age of 9 in boys.
How to avoid BPA?
Even though BPA can be used legally for the production of plastic materials, some brands are selling reusable BPA-free bottles and food containers. Those are not only baby bottles, but also reusable water bottles and lunch boxes. You can recognize these products by looking at their label: look for “BPA FREE” sign.
Besides, the US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences provides some guidelines for reducing your exposure to BPA:
- Don’t regularly microwave plastic containers made from polycarbonate.
- Avoid buying and using plastic containers and bottles with “recycle codes” 3 and 7.
- Reduce your use of canned foods.
- When possible, use glass, porcelain, or stainless steel containers and bottles.
- Use baby bottles or bottles that are BPA-free.