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Safer water bottles

Toxic scare has drinkers diving for protection. How to tell if yours is healthy, plus 8 great BPA-free bottles

Mar. 6, 2013 - 11:48AM   |  
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Chances are, every time you take a chug out of that reusable plastic water bottle in your rucksack, you're ingesting trace amounts of bisphenol-A, or BPA, a chemical some scientists say can cause health defects.

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Chances are, every time you take a chug out of that reusable plastic water bottle in your rucksack, you're ingesting trace amounts of bisphenol-A, or BPA, a chemical some scientists say can cause health defects.

Various studies in recent years have shown that BPA which is used to harden plastics in everything from reusable water bottles to eyeglasses can mimic the effects of the hormone estrogen and might lead to developmental problems in infants.

Small amounts of BPA can "leech" out of the plastic and into your water, especially when heated, microwaved or left sitting for long periods.

However, scientists are split on whether the threat is real, and the effects on adults, they seem to agree, are less of a concern.

According to the National Institutes of Health, there is "some concern" that low levels of exposure to BPA among fetuses, infants and children can lead to developmental problems in behavior, in the brain and in glands that affect puberty and reproduction.

The National Toxicology Program issued a statement in September that cited "some concern for neural and behavioral effects in fetuses, infants and children at current human exposures. ... The possibility that bisphenol-A may alter human development cannot be dismissed."

But the Food and Drug Administration downplayed the risk earlier this year, saying that products containing BPA "are safe and that exposure levels to BPA from food contact materials … are below those that may cause health effects."

The FDA has the power to limit use of BPA in food containers and medical devices, but the report concludes that BPA exposure is not enough to warrant action.

Still, retail giant Wal-Mart has announced it will begin to phase out most BPA plastics used for food containers, and big makers of reusable water bottles such as Nalgene and CamelBak have debuted BPA-free versions while maintaining the safety of their other products.

In an editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association, doctors Frederick S. vom Saal and John Peterson Myers accuse the chemical industry of an "aggressive disinformation campaign" that they likened to the "manufactured doubt" developed by the lead and tobacco industries.

"We shouldn't wait until further studies are done in order to act in protecting humans," said Dr. Ana Soto of Tufts University, who has called for more restrictions on the chemical.

To make sure the plastic water bottle in your pack isn't slowly altering your brain, we found eight new BPA-free bottles available now. Drink up.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

CamelBak .75L Better Bottle w/Big Bite

This 750ml bottle comes in a variety of colors and features CamelBak's no-spill, Big Bite valve, which lets you sip without tipping the bottle. It's also compatible with CamelBak's hands-free adapter and is dishwasher safe. Available in 12 colors.

Retail price: Around $13


CamelBak .5L Better Bottle w/ Classic Cap

Like its Better Bottle brethren, this half-liter version comes with a classic lid that's interchangeable with Big Bites but might be preferred by those who don't take small sips. Dishwasher safe.

Retail price: Around $9


Nalgene 24 oz. OTG Bottle

This slim, impact-resistant bottle is dishwasher safe, won't retain tastes and odors, and is made from Eastman Tritan copolyester with no BPA. It features a unique hinged cap that's easy to carry and lets you open the bottle with one hand. It also fits in most cupholders.

Retail price: Around $10


Nalgene Everyday Tritan

With a 32-ounce capacity, this is the classic Nalgene water bottle. It comes in various colors, is dishwasher safeand, like all Nalgene bottles, can withstand extreme temperatures from 40 to 212 degress Fahrenheit. The screw-top cap is familiar to anyone who's ever carried a Nalgene on a long haul.

Retail price: Around $10


Nalgene 12 oz. Toddler Grip-n-Gulp

Protect your future troops with Nalgene's BPA-free toddler series, featuring a one-piece sipper and a minigrip design for small hands. Even better, it's spill-proof. Not microwave safe. Dishwasher safe.

Retail price: Around $9


Intak by Thermos 24 oz. hydration bottle

Available at Target stores and featuring a useful rotating intake meter to let you monitor your water consumption, this BPA-free bottle has a leak-proof push-button lid and is made from Eastman Tritan copolyester.

Retail price: Around $10


Klean Kanteen 800ml stainless steel bottle

A plastic-free alternative, this sturdy bottle looks like a scuba tank and is made from non-leeching, nontoxic materials with food-grade electropolished steel. Its wide mouth allows for ice cubes.

Retail price: Around $19


SIGG Steelworks 0.6 liter bottle

This Swiss-made bottle is made of stainless steel and holds about 20 ounces of liquid. Assorted bottle tops are available to replace the standard screw top. In true Swiss tradition, this bottle is a finely engineered piece of gear.

Retail price: Around $20


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