Sanitation and Health Effects

 
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IDEAL

Everyone has access to safe, wasteless, free water.

HARSH REALITY

Some 1.8 billion people worldwide drink water that is contaminated with feces. While plastic bottled water has served an important purpose in providing clean water, particularly to those in emergency situations, plastic has many negative consequences on our health and environment.

TAKEAWAY

Plastic bottles are not the solution. Carry a reusable bottle instead!

 

Did you know?

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Some 1,400 children die each day from water-related diseases.

This is typically caused by lack of water, or lack of clean water, both of which lead to inadequate sanitation and hydration.

Some frightening statistics:

  • Some 1,400 children die each day from water-related diseases.
  • 2.1 billion people lack access to safely managed drinking water services
  • 4.5 billion people lack safely managed sanitation services
  • Globally, one out of 10 people can’t access clean water.

AND WHILE 99% OF THESE DEATHS ARE IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD, THE UNITED STATES IS NOT IMMUNE TO WATER SAFETY ISSUES.

Did you know that one in four Americans drink tap water that fails safety standards?

That’s in part because of what we call Pipeageddon - another name for the increasing failures of an aging and decaying infrastructure. Just look at the tragedy of cities like Flint, or the school system in Newark, NJ.

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1/4 Americans drink tap water that fails safety standards.

Unfortunately, the more folks come to distrust their tap water, the more they turn to “cleaner” and “safer” alternatives like bottled water.

There are also natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina or the effects of climate change and drought in places like California and Colorado. 

Plastic bottled water can serve an important purpose in providing light, portable sources of clean water, particularly to those in emergency situations, however, new studies suggest that plastic bottles release small amounts of chemicals, like harmful hormone-disrupting phthalates, after as little as 10 weeks of storage (and much faster if bottles have been left in the sun). And the longer water is stored in plastic bottles, the higher the concentration of a potentially harmful chemical. The research involved 132 brands of bottled water from 28 countries produced in containers made from polyethylene terephthalate, or PET.

These microplastics often carry toxic contaminants and pose a real risk to food security and human health if they enter the human food chain via the fish that we eat.
— Petri Suuronen, Fishery Industry Officer, UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

Plastic bottles also contain Bisphenol A (BPA), the chemical used to make the plastic hard and clear. BPA is an endocrine disruptor which has been proven to be hazardous to human health. It has been strongly linked to a host of health problems including certain types of cancer, neurological difficulties, early puberty in girls, reduced fertility in women, premature labour, and defects in newborn babies – to name a few examples.

...AND ALL OF THIS DOESN’T ADDRESS THE REST OF THE FOOD CHAIN!

In 1950, the world’s population of 2.5 billion produced 1.5 million tons of plastic; in 2016, a global population of more than 7 billion people produced over 300 million tons of plastic – with severe consequences for marine plants and animals.

According to one estimate, 99% of all seabirds will have ingested plastic by mid-century, and even if you don’t have a lot of seabirds in your diet, given the amount of plastic found today in oceans, much of marine life carries plastic that either entered them directly or by eating smaller marine creatures.

 

It’s clear that, for the sake of our health (and the health of those in our food chain), plastic bottles are not the solution.

 
Lucy Marie Horton