Proper hydration and sustainable living is all fine and dandy, but here’s a question even the most green of you probably aren’t asked too often about your reusable plastic water bottle: do you even wash it, bro?
People should be asking each other this question, particularly if you’re using a disposable water bottle that’s only meant for one-time use. In a 2007 article in the journal Practical Gastroenterology, researchers found that commercial bottled water producers don’t suggest that consumers reuse those disposable water bottles, and here’s why: everyday damage from continued washing and reuse can bring about physical breakdown of the plastic material, ranging from visible thinning to cracks. Because of this, bacteria can reside in the cracks and pose a significant health risk, they offered. Not only that, but the reuse of plastic water bottles often brings about bacterial hazards like contamination, unless washed properly. This means washing the bottle out with soap, rinsing it with warm water, and ensuring that there isn’t any physical breakdown before use.
In fact, even reusable plastic water bottles could be dangerous if you fail to wash them out. Bacterial organisms that slide into the cracks and scratches of your water bottle seem to have a bigger health risk than the chemicals leaking from the bottle’s plastic material during daily use, the article warns.
Water bottles can definitely be a safe place for such bacteria: during a 2002 study published in the Canadian Journal of Public Health, study analysts gathered samples of water bottle water from elementary school students, many of which were reused for months without getting washed. Astonishingly, almost two-thirds of the samples showed bacteria levels that were higher than normal drinking water guidelines set in place. This was perhaps the result of bottles having bacterial regrowth from when they stayed at room temperature for too long, researchers suggested.
Though the researchers didn’t look at the precise source of the bacterial growth, it probably came from “the hands of the students themselves,” the study believed. That’s because inadequate hand washing after students go to the bathroom may lead to fecal matter in the classroom setting, the researchers concluded.
Always remember to consult your physician or chiropractor before taking any health advice.
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