Don't Buy a Nalgene Water Bottle Until You Read This

Closeup of a clear reusable water bottle, with a crosswalk in the background


Karl Tapales / Getty Images

UPDATE:Nalgene no longer sells water bottles made with Bisphenol A. Number 7 as a plastic type means any plastic that is not in the first six, so having number 7 on the bottom does not necessarily mean that it contains BPA.

Dangers of Nalgene Water Bottles and Other Plastic Sport Water Bottles

Many Nalgene water bottles and other hard plastic sport water bottles are made of polycarbonate (#7 on the bottom) , which may leach Bisphenol A, an estrogen-like chemical. Canada is considering a ban of products containing Bisphenol A (BPA) and a new American study links it to breast cancer and early puberty, and is particularly concerned about the effect on babies. Others have raised concerns about the effect of feminizing hormones on men, such as breast enlargement or dropping semen counts. At the same time, sport water bottles are ubiquitous and we don't want people going back to buying bottled water. What should you do? Time to nix the Nalgene? We looked at our past posts and the latest reports, and suggest the following.

7 Ways to Beat BPA, in Order of Importance

1. Ditch the clear plastic baby bottles, right now. All the research that says there are problems point at the effect of the estrogen-like BPA on children as being the most significant.
2. Tin cans are often lined in plastic BPA and sit around a long time; get rid of older tin cans, particularly if they contain tomatoes and other acidic fruits.
3. Don't use your polycarbonate bottle for hot drinks.
4. Polycarbonate bottles get crazed and cracked as they get older; that increases surface area. Get rid of old ones.
5. Replace your Polycarbonate bottle with a Sigg, Kleen Kanteen, or the new BPA free Camelbak, particularly if pregnant or pre-pubescent.
6. Replace jugs where water sits around a long time, like Brita knockoffs. (Brita says they are BPA free)
7. Stop using jugged water cooler water, get a filter and cooler that uses city water. It is a big jug so there probably isn't much of a problem, but why are you drinking bottled water anyways?

Don't worry about polycarbonates in non-food related products like CDs and DVDs. but keep them out of babies' mouths.

The Bisphenol A Controversy

This list is based on a bit of consultation with our resident chemist, but the issue is controversial. The plastics industry says there is no problem, as does the maker of Nalgene water bottles.
Energy and Commerce Chair John Dingell says “There are serious health concerns about whether Bisphenol A is safe, not only for adults, but for children and infants," and is concerned that the Food and Drug Administration's policies on BPA are "entirely dependent on two studies' that are both funded by a subsidiary of the American Chemistry Council, which represents plastic resins manufacturers."

According to Chemistry World, The FDA maintains that there is no reason to ban or restrict the use of BPA in food or drink containers because human exposure levels to the chemical from these sources is too low to have any adverse effects.

View Article Sources
  1. BPA and the Controversy about Plastic Food Containers.” National Capital Poison Center.

  2. Rahman, Saidur, et al. Bisphenol-A affects male fertility via fertility-related proteins in spermatozoa. Sci Rep, 2015, vol. 5, doi:10.1038/srep09169

  3. Questions & Answers on Bisphenol A (BPA) Use in Food Contact Applications.” U.S. Food & Drug Administration.

  4. Augugliaro, Vincenzo, et al. Clean by Light Irradiation Practical Applications of Supported TiO2. Royal Society of Chemistry. 2010.