Think Before You Drink

By: Erin Tate
By: Erin Tate

Robin Delaughter loves to run. Each week she gets in a good nine miles. And she needs a whole lot of water to keep her hydrated and healthy.

"I drink about five bottles of water a day, so I thought I was saving money by reusing the water bottles," she says.

But little did she know, as she was growing more fit, the bacteria inside her water bottle was growing more foul. Recently, a friend of Delaughter's told her to check her bottles after reading several articles in different fitness magazines.

"I checked mine which I had been using two or three weeks and the lid had mold in it," she said. Delaughter isn't the only one re-using single-use water bottles.

Bottled water can be expensive and besides, we're taught to recycle plastics.

But in a study at the University of Idaho, it's been found that the plastic that water bottles are made of can break down over time and with repeated washings.

Also, the potentially cancerous toxin DEHA was found in water samples from reused bottles. While these studies have some bottled water drinkers changing their habits, one local chemist says there's no cause for concern.

"A lot of these things I do take with a grain of salt and would look to see if there's some science behind what they're saying," says Dr. Scott Lewis, a chemist at James Madison University.

He says DEHA has been used in plastics - like SaranWrap - for over forty years and doesn't pose a health hazard. Lewis reuses his water bottles by keeping them cold and mold-free in the fridge. He says he's more concerned about bottles breaking down if left in the sun too long.

Sanitation specialists say water bottles are fine to refill if you wash them daily by hand with hot, soapy water and allow them to dry completely before using them again.

Another helpful hint: don't put your water bottles in the dishwasher. It doesn't properly clean them.

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