An Environmental Working Group investigation found that the recycling code 1 PET plastics contain numerous chemical additives, numerous manufacturing impurities and degradation byproducts, with 90 potential contaminants that can leach into bottled water.
Shoppers who seek the convenience of bottled water believe that the plastic bottle itself is an inert packaging that has no effects on the stored product. Yet, because of long-standing gaps in the government oversight of food packaging materials, FDA approval of any particular packaging chemical is hardly a guarantee of its safety. EWG analysis of bottled water plastic additives documents obtained from FDA through a Freedom of Information Act request uncovered that chemical additives in PET plastics receive only a cursory toxicological evaluation by the FDA.
Even though millions of bottle water drinkers may be exposed to these chemicals every day, the identity and potential toxicity of these additives are kept a secret from the general public. Manufacturers do not reveal what ingredients may be found in their products' packaging and FDA does not mandate such disclosure, leaving shoppers wondering what additives may end up in their food and beverages.
Based on the review of government records, EWG researchers compiled a database of PET additives, impurities and degradation products, freely available on the EWG website for use by the general public, academic research as well as environmental and public health experts.
"Lack of publicly available data for most plastic additives, unwarranted assumptions of safety and superficial review by the FDA allow on the market plastic packaging that may leach undisclosed ingredients," said Olga Naidenko, Ph.D., EWG Senior Scientist. "The unproven safety record for plastic additives is just one more reason why bottled water drinkers end up with a product that fails to live up to its claims of purity and quality."