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Is it safe to drink bottled water that’s been in the sun?

Grabbing a disposable water bottle, particularly when the weather warms up, is an easy way to stay hydrated. But you may want to think twice before you quench your thirst with a bottle you left in your car or sitting outside by the backyard pool.

Most of the billions of plastic water bottles used in the US are made out of polyethylene terephthalate. When this material is heated (like in the cup holder of your hot car), it can release chemicals antimony and bisphenol A, which is commonly known as BPA.

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, these chemicals could be carcinogenic and harmful to your health.

But, Jane Sadler, MD, a family medicine doctor on the medical staff of Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Plano, said BPA isn’t the only concern when it comes to plastic water bottles and extreme heat.

“Bacteria loves heat, and it loves moisture,” Dr. Sadler said. “If you think about all of the bacteria in your mouth, that’s what’s being regenerated and rejuvenated in the bottle.”

Because of the bacteria and chemicals that could be floating around inside your water bottle, the doctor said it is important to use them for their intended purpose. That means tossing out those disposable water bottles intended for single use and washing your reusable ones thoroughly with hot, soapy water after each use.

Those eco-friendly reusable bottles left unwashed can become a breeding ground for bacteria. Follow these steps after each use to keep your water bottle at its best.

  • Use hot soapy water
  • Let it soak for a few minutes
  • Scrub the bottle and lid with a bottle brush
  • Air-dry overnight or hand-dry with a clean cloth

“We also want to make sure that water bottles are stored in a cool place,” Dr. Sadler said. “And that even when they’re being used, they should not be left in a car or re-used after that.”

And if you’re sending your kids to school with a reusable bottle of water to keep them hydrated, remind them to wash their hands before and after they drink from their bottle.  Handwashing will help keep germs they pick up on school surfaces from getting into their drinking water.

If you’re concerned about BPA, purchase an easy-to-clean, BPA-free reusable water bottle.

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Is it safe to drink bottled water that’s been in the sun?