Choose your water bottles very carefully in order to prevent chemicals in the plastic from leaching into your water.
Plastic water bottles are very convenient for carting water around when we are on the go, as they don't break if we drop them. However, it is worth paying attention to the type of plastic your water bottle is made of, to ensure that the chemicals in the plastic do not leach into the water. If you taste plastic, you are drinking it, so get yourself another bottle.
To be certain that you are choosing a bottle that does not leach, check the recycling symbol on your bottle. If it is a #2 HDPE (high density polyethylene), or a #4 LDPE (low density polyethylene), or a #5 PP (polypropylene), your bottle is fine. The type of plastic bottle in which water is usually sold is usually a #1, and is only recommended for one time use. Do not refill it. Better to use a reusable water bottle, and fill it with your own filtered water from home and keep these single-use bottles out of the landfill.
Unfortunately, those fabulous colourful hard plastic lexan bottles made with polycarbonate plastics and identified by the #7 recycling symbol, may leach BPA. Bisphenol A is a xenoestrogen, a known endocrine disruptor, meaning it disturbs the hormonal messaging in our bodies. Synthetic xenoestrogens are linked to breast cancer and uterine cancer in women, decreased testosterone levels in men, and are particularly devastating to babies and young children. BPA has even been linked to insulin resistance and Type 2 Diabetes. For more of the science on the effects of BPA on our endocrine system etc. see these studies: Environmental Health Perspectives Journal. Nalgene, the company that manufactures the lexan water bottles also makes #2 HDPE bottles in the same sizes and shapes, so we have a viable alternative. Order one at Nalgene.
Unfortunately, most plastic baby bottles and drinking cups are made with plastics containing Bisphenol A. In 2006 Europe banned all products made for children under age 3 containing BPA, and as of Dec. 2006 the city of San Franscisco followed suit. In March 2007 a billion-dollar class action suit was commenced against Gerber, Playtex, Evenflo, Avent, and Dr. Brown's in Los Angeles superior court for harm done to babies caused by drinking out of baby bottles and sippy cups containing BPA. To get safe plastic baby products, try BornFree Natural Baby Products, or use glass bottles.
Check the recycling numbers on all your plastic food containers as well, and gradually move to storing all food in glass or ceramic.
Store water in glass or brass if possible, and out of direct sunlight.
Chek, Paul; How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy! Chek Institute, San Diego, CA, 2004.
Alonso-Magdelena, Paloma; "The estrogenic effect of Bisphenol A disrupts pancreatic β-cell function in vivo and induces insulin resistance" Environmental Health Perspectives Vol. 114, No. 1, Jan. 2006.
Hunt,Patricia;"Bisphenol A Exposure Causes Meiotic Aneuploidy in the Female Mouse" Current Biology, Vol 14, 546-553, 1 April 2003.
vom Saal, Frederick and Hughes, Claude; "An Extensive New Literature Concerning Low-Dose Effects of Bisphenol A Shows the Need for a New Risk Assessment" Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 113, No. 8, August 2005.
Schonfelder, Gilbert et al.Parent Bisphenol A Accumulation in human maternal fetal placental unit Environmental Health Perspectives Vol. 110, No. 11, Nov. 2002.
Thanks to Sherrie Attilia and Marian Gray for this article.