I Wish I Were Far From the Madding Crowd

April 2, 2010

Are PET plastic bottles a source of endocrine disruptors?

PET (or PETE) bottles are the ones with the recycling number “1”.  (For a list of all the numbers and a description of the various plastics (and what they’re used for), see the Resin Identification Codes chart at the American Chemistry Council.)

Polyethylene Terephthalate May Yield Endocrine Disruptors

Leonard Sax, Environmental Health Perspectives, 118(4) Apr 2010.

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is the material most commonly used to make the clear plastic bottles in which bottled water is sold. PET bottles are also in widespread use as containers for soda beverages, sports drinks, and condiments such as vinegar and salad dressing. PET bottles are also commonly used for the packaging of cosmetic products, such as shampoo, particularly when such products are sold in clear plastic bottles.

From the Editor’s Summary

Sax suggests that the phthalate content of PET bottles, if present, might vary as a function of the acidity of the product and the temperature and duration of storage. Sax also makes the observation that other nonphthalate chemicals such as antimony, which is used as a catalyst in the polycondensation of PET, might also contribute to the endocrine-disrupting activity of products stored in PET containers.

Note: McDonough and Braungart comment on the use of antimony in the manufacture of polyester in Cradle to Cradle.

Article contents

Cites “Exposure to endocrine disrupting compounds via the food chain: Is packaging a relevant source?” by Jane Muncke, Science of the Total Environment, Volume 407, Issue 16, 1 August 2009, Pages 4549-4559 doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2009.05.006.

1 Comment

  1. Sax makes some interesting conjectures, based on a highly selective literature search in which he completely ignored all evidence to the contrary. He then goes on to equate antimony trioxide with antimony chloride (well, chemistry is not necessarily a pediatrician’s strong point) and ignore quantitative considerations.
    But it sounds scientific. Guess it must be true.

    Comment by Sally Field — April 6, 2010 @ 3:54 am

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