Bottle Bunk

Reusing plastic beverage bottles causes harmful chemicals to leach into water.


This rumor is the subject of an e-mail hoax that went so far as to dupe a popular woman’s magazine in 2003—providing yet another reminder that spotting an Internet hoax isn’t always easy.


Subject: Poisoning from reuse of plastic bottles

Some of you may be in the habit of using and re-using your disposable water bottles (Wilkins, Viva, etc), keeping them in your car or at work. Not a good idea.

In a nutshell, the plastic (called polyethylene terephthalate or PET) used in these bottles contains a potentially carcinogenic element (something called diethylhydroxylamine or DEHA). The bottles are safe for one use only; if you must keep them longer, it should be no more than a few days, a week max, and keep them away from heat as well.

Repeated washing and rinsing can cause the plastic to break down and the carcinogens can leach into the water that YOU are drinking. Better to invest in water bottles that are really meant for multiple uses. This is not something we should be scrimping on. Take care. Those of you with family - please advise them, especially for their children's sake.


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration carefully reviews food and beverage packaging materials, including the plastics used to make water bottles, before allowing them on the market, so they won’t pose a risk to human health. As part of its review, FDA assesses the migration potential of plastics and the substances with which they are made.

Most convenience-sized plastic water bottles are made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a lightweight, shatter resistant and well-tested material. Based on the results of its extensive review, FDA allows the use of PET in both single-use and repeated-use food and beverage packaging. In fact, refillable bottles made with the same PET resin as single-use bottles are frequently reused in a number of other countries.

Contrary to this hoax, PET bottles are not made with DEHA, an FDA-permitted additive used with some types of plastics to impart flexibility and other desirable qualities. Moreover, DEHA is the standard abbreviation for di(2-ethylhexyl) adipate, not diethylhydroxylamine as misstated in the e-mail.

Tip: When you choose to reuse a plastic water bottle, don’t forget to clean it just as you would any drinking container. Be sure to wash with hot soapy water and dry thoroughly between each use.

The concern is that bacteria can thrive in warm, moist environments, and once opened, bacteria can grow in virtually any beverage container under the right conditions.

Always check out a chain letter. Just because a health scare sounds scientifically plausible or concludes with a heart-wrenching plea to warn your friends and family, doesn’t mean it’s legitimate. Checking out a chain letter can be fast and easy. Just visit a myth-busting website. Learn more quick tips that can help you debunk the junk.


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