I was putting some milk in my coffee the other morning in the office kitchen when someone I don't know (from another department?) said, "You know those are bad for you, right?"
I looked up and realized he was referring to my small Nalgene bottle which I fill with milk at the beginning of the week and keep in the fridge at work.
I replied that I was aware of the issue but that I had never really taken it that seriously and since I have about 7 or 8 various sized Nalgenes, I hadn't really considered throwing them all away. He said a few other things about how the dangers are pretty cut and dry, etc and generally looked at me like I was crazy. I also said something about not really believing that the studies were that conclusive with respect to the level of exposure necessary to increase one's risk of cancer.
If you're not familiar with the issue, here's an excerpt from the Nalgene entry in Wikipedia:
"In recent years, studies have suggested that polycarbonate plastics such as the ones Nalgene used may leach endocrine disruptors. Nalgene denies that the quantity leached from their products posed a significant threat to health. Among the secreted chemicals, Bisphenol A (BPA) is an area of concern as it binds to estrogen receptors, thus altering gene expression. Other research has found that fixatives in polycarbonate plastics can cause chromosomal error in cell division called aneuploidy. Nalgene claims these chemicals are only potentially released from Nalgene products when used at temperatures outside of the designed range.
In November 2007, Mountain Equipment Co-op removed all hard, clear polycarbonate plastic water bottles (including Nalgene-branded product) from their shelves and no longer offers these items for sale. In December 2007, Lululemon made a similar move. In May 2008, REI removed Nalgene-branded polycarbonate water bottles and replaced them with BP-A free Nalgene bottles.
On April 18, 2008, Health Canada announced that Bisphenol A is "'toxic' to human health". Canada is the first nation to make this designation. On the same date Nalgene announced it would phase out production of its Outdoor line of polycarbonate containers containing the chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA). Nalgene’s current product mix, includes the recently launched Everyday line and the original polycarbonate bottles made from materials that do not contain BPA."
Also, a New York Times article from this past April: NYT: Bottle Maker to Stop Using Plastic Linked to Health Concerns
So after knowing all that, it does kind of sound silly that I continue to use these bottles. I've tried to find out if there's a decent way to dispose of them if I were to come to that decision. So far, the only solution seems to be to find a recycling service that accepts plastics with the #7 on the bottom. I think that generally, your neighborhood recycling service doesn't accept those items. I REALLY don't want to just chuck them in the landfill. But should I be looking out more for the environment or my health?*
Would you throw yours away? Have you already?
Oh, and my replacement of choice at this point would be Sigg bottles.
*I realize that my personal health is in many ways tied to the health of the environment.