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Mike ODonnell
04-18-2008, 10:00 AM
Is any plastic really safe?

Bottle firm halts use of plastic tied to tumors
Canada to declare chemical toxic
Email|Print|Single Page| Text size – + By Ian Austen
New York Times News Service / April 18, 2008

OTTAWA - Nalgene, the brand that popularized water bottles made from hard, clear, and nearly unbreakable polycarbonate, will stop using the plastic because of growing concern over one of its ingredients.

The decision by Nalgene Outdoor Products, which is a unit of Thermo Fisher Scientific and is based in Rochester, N.Y., was made after reports that the Canadian government would declare the chemical bisphenol-a, or BPA, toxic. Some animal studies have linked the chemical to changes in the hormonal system.

Those reports also prompted many of Canada's largest retailers, including Wal-Mart Canada, to remove food-related products made with plastics containing BPA, like baby bottles, toddler sipping cups, and food containers, from their stores this week.

"Based on all available scientific evidence, we continue to believe that Nalgene products containing BPA are safe for their intended use," Steven Silverman, the general manager of the Nalgene unit, said in a statement. "However, our customers indicated they preferred BPA-free alternatives and we acted in response to those concerns."

The United States' National Toxicology Program released a draft report on Tuesday reporting that some rats that were fed or injected with low doses of BPA developed precancerous tumors and urinary tract problems and reached puberty early.

While the report said the animal tests provided "limited evidence," it also noted that the "possibility that bisphenol-a may alter human development cannot be dismissed."

On April 10, the American Chemistry Council, which says that there is no evidence suggesting that BPA has an adverse impact on people, asked the Food and Drug Administration to review the chemical.

Nalgene's decision to drop the plastic that transformed it from an obscure maker of laboratory equipment into a consumer brand does not mean the company is leaving the drinking-bottle business.

It has long made bottles from other plastics that lack the glasslike transparency and rigidity that have made polycarbonate popular.

In March, Nalgene also introduced a line of bottles made from a relatively new plastic from the Eastman Chemical Co., Tritan Copolyester, that shares most of polycarbonate's properties, including shatter-resistance, but is made without BPA

Tom Rawls
04-18-2008, 11:19 AM
I was drinking from a Nalgene bottle just before reading this thread.

I expect the risks of driving to the store later are greater than those posed by my water bottle.

If I am not mistaken, there have been studies showing that people tend to over-emphasize risks that by rational measure are quite small, but are comfortable with far greater risks that are part of day-to-day life.

Garrett Smith
04-18-2008, 11:56 AM
Tom,
I do believe you are correct. On top of that, the number of xenoestrogens and estrogen-mimicking compounds in our environment have grown to such a number that while each one may have a miniscule (we hope, right?) risk, the combination of all of them together may be quite a significant risk these days.

Yes, I'm more likely to die driving than from plastic, for sure. At this point I need (well, choose) to drive to earn $$ to feed myself (or I'd definitely die), and I can easily use Ball jars instead of plastic. At least some risk is getting minimized.

Mike ODonnell
04-18-2008, 12:42 PM
I expect the risks of driving to the store later are greater than those posed by my water bottle. If I am not mistaken, there have been studies showing that people tend to over-emphasize risks that by rational measure are quite small, but are comfortable with far greater risks that are part of day-to-day life.

Isn't our health also the sum of all parts.....so even though getting in a car crash is 100% bad....doesn't also the small exposure risks daily add up?....and aren't those number of toxic exposures growing?...so little by little we begin down a path of liver function overload and the wonderful health problems that follow? A much slower death....but still death. A life of decreasing health and function is not a path I wish to take.

I would say...remove the exposure of the toxins we do have control over...and then we are doing what we can for health. However I'm not about to go live in a plastic bubble. I'm not about to give up driving for fear of a car crash....as all I have control over is how I drive...not how others drive....so I go slower and drive more defensively....as that is what is in my control.

Gant Grimes
04-18-2008, 01:51 PM
However I'm not about to go live in a plastic bubble.

Hell no. I hear those bubbles will kill you.

Patrick Donnelly
04-18-2008, 02:02 PM
This past week, I began bringing in my own 1L Nalgene water bottle to school with filtered tap water from home, and I can't imagine that changing now. Recently, after one student vomited in a water fountain (it was very pink, thin, and foul smelling) and another student covered a different fountain in pubic hair (no one knows who that student was, but he must have been trimming and saving it for months), I decided I'd no longer drink from the fountains there. Previously, I only drank from specific fountains, in the less-trafficked parts of the school, but even those would get full of tobacco dip spit from time to time.

I'm more concerned about the flouride in the water than about the bottle I'm putting it in. Either way, it'll take a thousand years for the effects to build up, and I'm not going to live that long.

Gant Grimes
04-18-2008, 02:28 PM
one student vomited in a water fountain (it was very pink, thin, and foul smelling) and another student covered a different fountain in pubic hair

School pranks have changed since I was a kid. Pulling the fire alarm just doesn't cut it anymore.

Chris Forbis
04-18-2008, 03:13 PM
One of the reasons I have a stainless steel water bottle... I also would like to have the capability to crush someone's skull with my water bottle if I ever need to.

Mike ODonnell
04-18-2008, 04:40 PM
One of the reasons I have a stainless steel water bottle... I also would like to have the capability to crush someone's skull with my water bottle if I ever need to.

Hmmmm....wonder if I can hollow out a bat and use that?

The bigger lesson could be just to start looking around and see what else we are exposed to that has plastic in contact with food and water......all those may add up to a bigger threat than we know....as we all like to think we are indestructible (including myself)....and can find out quickly how wrong we can be sometimes....

Frank Needham
04-18-2008, 06:47 PM
One of the reasons I have a stainless steel water bottle... I also would like to have the capability to crush someone's skull with my water bottle if I ever need to.

Chris, you've now given me a new use for the Gott steel thermos I've had for years!

Endocrine disruption, this is a hot subject in the world of wastewater engineering wherein I work (I've heard all the jokes but if you think you've got a new one go ahead). At this time the plant where I'm employed treats effluent to the tertiary level, ie, we put the end product back in the drinking supply after the final treatment step of chlorination. The fourth level is coming and that is for the endocrine disruption stuff of which MOD speaks. This treatment level will consist of RO systems that strain stuff out of the water that is incomprehensible in its small size. Point is, this business with plastics is real and there are plans to deal with it. Have you seen the reports of fish in Europeans rivers growing male and female sex organs? Last I heard they use a trapping system to monitor the fish and thereby the drinking water supply for this stuff.

Scott Kustes
04-19-2008, 10:15 AM
Hmmmm....wonder if I can hollow out a bat and use that?

The bigger lesson could be just to start looking around and see what else we are exposed to that has plastic in contact with food and water......all those may add up to a bigger threat than we know....as we all like to think we are indestructible (including myself)....and can find out quickly how wrong we can be sometimes....
MOD, make sure the bat doesn't have any chemicals used to treat the wood. Also, you wouldn't want to live in a plastic bubble as this thread is all about avoiding plastic...duh! Try an airtight metal bubble. :D

Mike ODonnell
04-19-2008, 10:58 AM
MOD, make sure the bat doesn't have any chemicals used to treat the wood. Also, you wouldn't want to live in a plastic bubble as this thread is all about avoiding plastic...duh! Try an airtight metal bubble. :D

Ahhhh...now I get the plastic bubble joke.....ahhhhhhh.....

Screw it...just going to make my bubble out of teflon and put it over a hot flame.....

Patrick Donnelly
04-19-2008, 07:30 PM
School pranks have changed since I was a kid. Pulling the fire alarm just doesn't cut it anymore.

Oh, I'm sure kids would do that too if it weren't a federal offense. In fact, it happened twice near the end of the last school year, though that was an anomaly. What's more frequent is it going off from really retarded things, like the fire in a trashcan in one of the girls' bathrooms (smoking, possibly? It'd be rather dumb to throw a cigarette in a trashcan full of paper towels.) and the one guy who was playing with a lighter in the bathroom, and accidentally set a soap dispenser on fire. (I had no idea that soap was flammable!)

Mike ODonnell
04-19-2008, 09:33 PM
Oh, I'm sure kids would do that too if it weren't a federal offense.

and now we are seeing the fallout from the lack of spanking and use of "time out"....

Frank Needham
04-21-2008, 05:57 AM
More about BPA with the focus being on baby bottles:

Companies Move to Curb Risk
From Chemical BPA
ASSOCIATED PRESS
April 21, 2008; Page B2

A chemical found in hundreds of common items came under increased pressure when Canada said it may ban its use in baby bottles, and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said it expected its entire assortment of baby bottles to be free of the material by early next year.

Two bottle makers also announced plans to phase out bisphenol A, or BPA, on Friday.
[photo]
Thermo Fisher plans to replace its Nalgene Outdoor line of plastic containers with BPA-free alternatives.

The moves come in the wake of a report from the U.S. government's National Toxicology Program saying that there is "some concern" about BPA. Experiments on rats linked BPA to changes in behavior and the brain, early puberty and possibly precancerous changes in the prostate and breast. While such animal studies only provide "limited evidence" of risk, the draft report said a possible effect on humans "cannot be dismissed."

With more than six million pounds produced in the U.S. each year, BPA is found in dental sealants, baby bottles, the liners of food cans, CDs and DVDs, eyeglasses and hundreds of household goods.

On Friday, Playtex Infant Care, a division of Energizer Holdings Inc., announced that the balance of its baby-bottle product line will be converted to BPA-free material by year end. In addition, the company said it will immediately suspend distribution in Canada of all infant-feeding products containing BPA. The company said BPA is used in only a few Playtex products.

Likewise, the maker of Nalgene water bottles, popular with hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts, said that bottles made with BPA will be pulled from stores over the next few months because of growing consumer concern over whether the chemical poses a health risk. Nalge Nunc International, a division of Waltham, Mass.-based Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., said Friday it will substitute its Nalgene Outdoor line of polycarbonate plastic containers with BPA-free alternatives.

Citing multiple studies in the U.S., Europe and Japan, the chemicals industry says polycarbonate bottles contain little BPA and release traces considered too low to harm humans.

Health Canada, saying it wanted to be prudent, said it is proposing "to reduce bisphenol A exposure in infants and newborns by proposing a number of actions: to ban polycarbonate baby bottles; to develop stringent migration targets for bisphenol A in infant formula cans; to work with industry to develop alternative food packaging and develop a code of practice; and to list bisphenol A under Schedule 1 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act."

Ottawa is giving the public 60 days to comment and will ban the use of BPA in baby bottles if no relevant information surfaces.

Jay Cohen
04-21-2008, 06:08 AM
What about the plastic's used in say, Rubbermaid food containers.

I tend warm my lunch in a microwave at work. Guess I should move to glass an and make the issue mute.

Garrett Smith
04-21-2008, 06:29 AM
Jay,
Microwaving and plastic?

I'd say ditch both. Nothing wrong with cool meat!

Jay Cohen
04-21-2008, 07:01 AM
Jay,
Microwaving and plastic?

I'd say ditch both. Nothing wrong with cool meat!


Ya, I knew that. Plastic will be leaving tonight, hello Pyrex and Corning Ware.

Thanks Dr. G.

BTW, spent the weekend with Coach Rip, great guy. If you haven't met him, try to work him into your To Do list.

Hope wife and baby are doing well.

Garrett Smith
04-21-2008, 05:27 PM
I knew you knew that...

Wife and baby (girl) are doing well, thanks!

As far as meeting Rip, he was at my Level I CF cert. Ahmik Jones was his "short torso" and I was his demo guy for the "long torso" deadlift setup! See here: http://media.crossfit.com/cf-video/CrossFit_RipDLStartingAngles.mov . Great guy.

Jay Cohen
04-21-2008, 05:41 PM
I knew you knew that...

Wife and baby (girl) are doing well, thanks!

As far as meeting Rip, he was at my Level I CF cert. Ahmik Jones was his "short torso" and I was his demo guy for the "long torso" deadlift setup! See here: http://media.crossfit.com/cf-video/CrossFit_RipDLStartingAngles.mov . Great guy.

Glad to hear all is well.
Good video, thanks for forwarding.

Have great week.

Frank Needham
04-22-2008, 10:28 AM
Probably more than you want to know on the topic of wastewater but it is interesting from several differenet angles.

This fish story is true
Scientists will lab-raise minnows to test effects of treated wastewater

Chris Morris

Mon, Apr 21, 2008 (2 a.m.)


Leila Navidi

Hundreds of millions of gallons of treated wastewater a week runs from the Clark County wastewater treatment facility to the Las Vegas Wash, and eventually into Lake Mead. Whether that treated water is altering the reproduction systems of fish in the lake is the subject of a $1 million study to begin this summer.

The fish in Las Vegas Bay look healthy on the outside, but it’s what’s inside that matters.

For more than a decade scientists have found that some fish in the bay and in the Las Vegas Wash, where treated wastewater is released back into Lake Mead, have mutated reproductive systems and different hormone levels than fish in other parts of the lake.

Now scientists are trying to determine whether those differences are the result of long-term exposure to releases of hundreds of millions of gallons each week of wastewater that contains trace amounts of hormones such as estrogen, as well as other chemicals and pharmaceuticals. Local water and wastewater managers are teaming up with federal agencies on a $1 million, two-year experiment that will test the effects of different kinds of wastewater on the reproductive systems of fathead minnows.

Starting this summer, scientists will raise generations of the minnows, stand-ins for the endangered razorback sucker and other native fish, in tanks at Clark County’s wastewater treatment plant on Flamingo Road. They’ll expose the little bait fish to the effluent that runs down the Las Vegas Wash into Lake Mead every day.

The goal is to see whether the wastewater — as opposed to ground water contaminated by local industry, chemicals in runoff, temperature differences or other factors — causes changes in the fish.

“When we look at the health of fish in the lake, you never know exactly what caused them (the changes) because they occurred over so many years,” said Lynn Orphan, regional water quality manager for the Clean Water Coalition, one of the participating agencies. She added that it is important to “invest time and money into making sure our water is as clean as we can make it.”

Scientists also hope to test whether new wastewater treatment techniques, including the use of ozone and special filters, lessen or eliminate the effects on fish.

In addition to the potential to improve the bay, wash and lake for fish, the study could also benefit humans. If the study helps scientists find new ways to improve water quality in Lake Mead, it would improve Las Vegas’ drinking water supply and recreation and fishing opportunities, as well as conditions for other wildlife, said representatives of several of the agencies involved.

There are no health warnings about consuming fish from Lake Mead, nor restrictions on fishing near the wash, according to the state and the National Park Service. There are, however, signs warning that the water in the wash is treated effluent.

A spokesman for the water authority, J.C. Davis, said a study of the effects on human health of the presence of tiny concentrations of chemicals from wastewater in Las Vegas’ drinking water is being peer reviewed.

“There is no indication based on existing science that these pose any threat to human health,” Davis said, adding that the authority will continue to study the issue.

Participating in the study are the Southern Nevada Water Authority, which represents water providers throughout the county; the Clark County Water Reclamation District, which operates wastewater treatment plants; the Clean Water Coalition, whose members include Clark County and three other valley water reclamation districts; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and the U.S. Geological Survey.

“Everyone has one common goal: the protection of Lake Mead and the best use of public dollars,” said Shane Snyder, research and development project manager for the water authority.

Orphan said her organization will contribute more than $300,000 toward the cost of the $1 million study. Erik Orsak, an environmental contaminants specialist with U.S. Fish and Wildlife, said his agency will contribute another $350,000. The rest of the cost will be covered with money from the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act, which allowed for the sale of public lands around Las Vegas. The water authority and the reclamation district will provide staff and the facilities for the testing.

Results from the study aren’t expected for at least two years. Xin Deng, who will receive his doctorate from the University of California this spring and did similar work at UC Riverside and UC Davis, was hired by the U.S. Geological Survey. He is scheduled to arrive in Las Vegas in early May, when construction will begin on tanks and other testing facilities at the wastewater treatment plant. The lab is expected to be complete by June or July, when testing will begin. Deng will conduct much of the analysis at Texas Tech University in Lubbock.

During the experiment, minnows will be exposed to a variety of wastewater and drinking water mixtures to see whether changes in their reproductive systems are more common when concentrations of wastewater are higher. Concentrations of wastewater are higher in the wash and bay than in the rest of the lake.

The fish will be exposed to regular tap water, tap water with estrogen or other chemicals added, the wastewater that runs into the wash and wastewater that has been treated with cutting-edge technology. Then scientists will compare which fish are healthier and whether one type of water causes more mutations in the fish’s reproductive systems. And because the fathead minnow reproduces very quickly, they will be able to observe several generations of the fish and whether those mutations increase over time.

The study will gauge the effects of the new, super-treated wastewater on the fish’s reproductive system. The plant, as part of a separate pilot project, will install the expensive equipment needed to perform the extra treatment this summer. Water officials have tested the technology on a small scale, but this pilot will test the technology with the full flows of the facility, more than 80 million gallons a day. Wastewater managers hope the extra treatments will reduce the amounts of contaminants, such as pharmaceuticals, that remain in the water after it has been treated.

The minnow tests will run for about a year so scientists can see whether the effects of exposure to wastewater are different in winter than in summer. During the summer, bacteria designed to consume contaminants in the water are more effective, which might effect the results, according to Doug Drury, deputy general manager of operations for Clark County Water Reclamation District.

Although Orsak, of U.S. Fish and Wildlife, didn’t want to make assumptions about what the study will find, he said it’s no secret that emerging pollutants, including estrogen from pharmaceuticals such as birth control pills, which are increasingly being studied worldwide, cause reproductive changes in fish.

The Southern Nevada Water Authority’s research and development project manager, on the other hand, said he’s not so sure the tests will show that contaminants in wastewater are responsible for changes in fish. Maybe the culprit is temperature or other sources of pollution, Snyder said.

Orsak said scientists have found male fish in the wild with elevated levels of a vitellogenin, a hormone typically found in large amounts only in female fish and necessary to produce egg protein. The wild fish also had higher-than-normal levels of estrogen in their blood.

In lab tests, scientists will check that fish are developing normal secondary sex characteristics, the fish equivalents of teenage boys’ facial and underarm hair — fatty tissue on their heads, which indicate a change to adulthood. They will also look for the vitellogenin.

The idea for the study surfaced when the Clean Water Coalition was undergoing an environmental review for a planned pipeline that would disperse some of the valley’s treated wastewater into the lake without sending it through the wash. The pipeline is designed to allow wastewater to better mix with the rest of the water in Lake Mead. The environmental review was approved in 2007.

But this isn’t the first study that’s been done on the fish in Lake Mead. In the mid-1990s, a USGS study found that fish in Lake Mead near the wash had greater incidence of hormonal and reproductive abnormalities than fish in other parts of the lake. The studies were replicated in 1999 and 2000, when scientists sampled fish in different seasons to see changes in hormone levels changed during spawning times.

USGS and U.S. Fish and Wildlife also collected fish in 2006 and 2007 to do additional studies. But the 2008 study will be the first to use fish raised in a controlled lab setting, rather than the complicated ecosystem in Lake Mead.

When studying fish in the wild, “we can only make inferences about what the causes (of reproductive changes) might be,” said Dr. Reynaldo Patińo, a professor at the USGS Texas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit of Texas Tech. “It is far easier to determine cause-effect relationships in controlled laboratory studies than it is in field studies.”

But Snyder said it will be important to continue to monitor fish the in lake, including the razorback sucker, because the study is interpreting data gleaned from work with a different species, fathead minnows.

Still, it’s important to use the minnow rather than the threatened species.

“Being endangered, you don’t want to kill any of them,” Drury said. “The process is to see (whether there are) negative impacts, and if there are there will be dead fish.”

Frank Needham
04-22-2008, 04:29 PM
Coincidentally our PW Dept found that plastic bottles issued by them to employees are made with BPA. They issued a slew of info on it to us. If anyone is interested I'd post it. Just want to check first before posting things so as not to clog the forum with things not wanted.