Safety of re-using plastic bottles?

I’ve read that plastic water bottles - of the 1 gallon jug type - aren’t meant for re-use, and that chemicals from the plastic can leach into the water.

Is there any truth to that?

If so, what chemical is the concern over? What physiological effects does it have and what dangers does it pose?

How is the original use of the bottle okay, but re-uses pose danger?

Do whatever undesirable things in the water sink to the bottom? I’ve noticed that the last 10% or so of refilled water bottles can have an unpleasant taste.

Of the top of my head I can say that plastics, or most of the bottle variety type anyway, outgas esters over time. It´s part of what gives the plastic bottle taste to water.

I´ll hazard the guess that other plasticizers on plastics could also contaminate the water over time; plasticiezer evaporation is what makes most plastics brittle after a long time.

Most bottled water has a two- or three-year shelf life, but in my experience it usually gets sold and used within six months or so of manufacture. So how on earth is fairly immediate reuse going to be a problem? The original water is sitting in the bottle for a long time on the shelf, which surely gives it more time to be contaminated. If I reuse a bottle, it’s only likely to hold the new water for a day or two at most.

And in any case, surely if the plasticisers have leached out, making the bottle brittle, then there is less harmful stuff remaining in the plastic to leach out?

Makes no sense to me at all.

It’s an urban myth.

End of story.

Not really

The snopes link has recently been updated but I think it’s unfair to say that it’s merely an urban myth.

BPA, which is what is discussed in your link, wouldn’t be found in water bottles. It would be found in plastics that are #7 recyclables like hard, clear plastic baby bottles. It’s also used in can linings and water pipe linings.

The only thing I worry about when re-using plastic water bottles is bacterial growth. I’ve found that if I re-use a plastic bottle too many times (even if it’s been washed), I start to get a mild sore throat.

Thanks for the info C3

No, that’s not what has been said.
The biggest problem with buying water in plastic bottles (one-use only) is what to do with them when they’re empty. There’s not nearly enough recycling of these going on.

Yes! I can’t remember the exact numbers, but I heard a guy on the radio talking about this (how’s that for a cite?) who said the number of plastic water bottles thrown away each year in the U.S. was in the Billions, and less than 10% of them were being recycled. I’ll try to dig up something more precise.

A couple of weeks ago, on NPR. I heard the same story. I was thinking 7%, but didn’t have any cites onhand.

Okay, here’s an MSNBC article that gives some numbers. 15 billion bottles of water are sold each year (as of 2002) and about 12% are recycled.

And, here’s the article that the guy we both heard on NPR wrote.