Reusable water bottles - are they safe?

Reusable water bottles are a great alternative to single-use plastic water bottles. They are much cheaper, healthier and eco friendly. But despite their environmental benefits, how safe are reusable drinking bottles?

Using reusable water bottles do not come without risks. Because of their frequent use, reusable water bottles can pose serious health risks due to the growth of harmful bacteria. The moist and often dark environment of the bottle can be a breeding ground for bacteria. A recent study found that reusable water bottles hosted both harmless and harmful bacteria. But the dangerous bacteria can cause illnesses such as antibiotic-resistant strep and staph infections. 

Reusable water bottles that have not been washed for a few days have been found to be unsafe because they house dangerous bacteria. Treadmill reviews tested reusable water bottles that had been used for a week. They found bottles that contained over 900,000 colony forming units of bacteria per square cm. This is more germs than on your standard toilet seat. Drinking water from these contaminated bottles is not safe and has serious health implications. These include urinary tract infection, diarrhoea, strep, sepsis and staph infections. If left unwashed these bacteria can thrive in the warm conditions and multiply at a fast rate.

To prevent harmful bacteria growing inside your reusable water bottles, daily cleaning is needed. For a daily clean, simple washing up liquid and hot water will be fine. But every now and again a deep clean is needed to make sure your reusable water bottle is bacteria free and safe to drink from. The safest and least abrasive method to do this is to use distilled white vinegar or baking powder. Both baking powder and white vinegar are natural cleaning ingredients that kill bacteria. First, rinse your bottle with water. Then you can either fill your bottle one-fifth of the way with white vinegar and fill the rest with water. Or create a paste of baking powder and water and coat the inside of the bottle. Let either mixture sit in your bottle for 10 minutes. Then rinse the bottle thoroughly and let the bottle air dry. These steps need to be followed to make sure your reusable water bottle is safe to use.

Similarly to disposable plastic water bottles, reusable plastic water bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate are unsafe because they contain the dangerous chemical BPA. When exposed to light and heat, BPA leaches into your drink, meaning harmful toxins are ingested. BPA is also found in plastic toys, canned foods, and food containers. So, we are exposed to more BPA than we think. High BPA exposure has been linked to reproductive issues, asthma and even cancer. Plastic bottles tend to be problematic havens for the growth of bacteria compared to other materials including stainless steel and glass. Thus, the best way to reduce BPA exposure and stay safe is to buy a reusable water bottle made of stainless steel or glass. 

The best way to minimise the risk of drinking contaminated water caused by harmful bacteria is to make sure that your reusable water bottle is cleaned thoroughly. Cleaning daily and an occasional deep clean will help keep pesky bacteria at bay. To prevent contamination from BPA consider purchasing a stainless steel water bottle rather than plastic. Following these steps will allow you to continue using your reusable water bottle safely.

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