Plastic bottles

The next time you want to put your baby’s bottles or your water bottles into the dishwasher, ask yourself, “is this a good idea?” You might think that putting your plastic bottles into the dishwasher will make them more sterile because of the heat that is applied to kill microorganisms. However, it has been found that when it comes to plastic bottles, hot temperatures actually act as a catalyst in the release of an endocrine disruptor called bisphenol A (BPA), which is present in the plastic.

BPA is utilized as a monomer in the synthesis of polycarbonates [7]. Polycarbonates are  a type of polymer that manufacturers use to make plastic products, such as baby bottles and water bottles [7]. Polycarbonate plastics are becoming more and more favored over glass due to their high heat resistance, high impact resistance, and cheap manufacturing. The trade-off to this, however, is that they release a toxic xenoestrogen that the body mistakingly sees as a natural estrogen, hence why it is called an endocrine disruptor. In animal studies, the chemical has been shown to affect reproductive health and brain development.

Niki C. Maragou, Athina Makri, Eugenia N. Lampi, Nikolaos S. Thomaidis, and Michael A. Koupparis, performed a study on the migration of BPA from 31 different polycarbonate baby bottles under conditions that are normally used by mothers and fathers. The researchers tested many different conditions under which BPA might be released into the baby bottles and it was found that high temperature is the prime factor in the release of BPA into baby bottles [7]. It was also found that the majority of BPA is released during the first and second sterilization cycles either in the dishwasher, or by hand.

The figure above shows the concentrations of BPA released into the liquid contents of baby bottles following washing cycles. As one can see, the concentration of BPA released decreases as the number of sterilization cycles increase for all four brands of baby bottles [7]. According to the researchers, “It was shown that migration of residual BPA takes place at a concentration range 2.4–14.3mg ugkg-1 when boiling water is poured into PC baby bottles, mainly during the first eight cycles of such use” [7]. The researchers also warn that although these concentrations are low, hazardous effects have still been reported.

As of right now, it is still unclear exactly what level of BPA is harmful to humans, but there are fairly large concentrations of this endocrine disruptor being released from plastic bottles when those bottles are exposed to high temperatures.

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