Nalgenes Pose a Threat

It is a reoccurring topic on this blog, toxic chemicals in objects that we use for our daily lives, and on this sunday, I’d like to bring forth another.

The difference between this blog and a mainstream news source is that I’m not hear to scare you into paying attention. I don’t believe in trying to scare the crap out of people to get them to listen, I believe more that once people hear the facts that have a direct impact, negative or positive, on their lives – they will want to take action and want to know more.

So if you’re the outdoors type, or the travelling type, or maybe you play ultimate frisbee like myself and my good friends here in Amsterdam, you surely know all about the Nalgene bottle.  I know I received mine as a gift from a special friend long ago.  Millions of people around the world are into using Nalgene bottles for carrying water throughout their day.  They have great faith in these bottles for being reliable and durable. Unfortunately this is more of an assumption based on general experience and the recommendations of others, we don’t sit around thinking, hmm what is this made of and is it ok to carry my drinking water?

However, up in Canada, this is exactly what they’ve been working on.  The Federal Health Department has been doing research into the material that Nalgene’s are made from, which includes something called bisphenol-A.  More and more research indicates that, especially as a bottle gets older, dangerous chemicals from this plastic start to break down and get into the water.  This also true under increased temperatures. Im summarizing the problem somewhat, but the basic idea is one that is unfortunately too common in this day and age.  An item that is very popular and seemingly very useful, turns out to also be potentially dangerous yet the issue is hardly noticed on the mainstream radar, unless its used as a scare tactic.

Im sure this issue will come back, as more tests are being done all the time. But for now, many shops in Canada are pulling various kinds of Nalgenes off the shelves, and here in my Amsterdam apartment, Im retiring my dear bottle; Ill find some other purpose for it, hopefully one that has little impact on humans and the environment.

For now consider this a public service announcement. If you’ve got a nalgene and you want to resist any suggestions to stop using it, I strongly recommend you research this issue and then consider your decision. You don’t HAVE to use THAT bottle, there are alternatives that pose less of a risk. This article points out some of them.


  1. January 14, 2008

    I never bought into the Nalgene fad. I use a 32 oz. Gatorade bottle that I replace about every two weeks. That’s only $3.50 a month for water bottles, and for me that’s worth having a new bottle when I want it.

  2. January 14, 2008

    I’ve had my bottle for about a year and a half now.

    According to the link you posted, only Nalgenes with type 7 “other” plastic have shown risks.

    So, check the bottom of the bottle for the material made. If it is ‘7’, you probably should retire the bottle.

    If it is a different number, then it still might be okay.

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  4. andrew
    January 14, 2008

    Go to PubMed and do the research yourselves by looking at all the original papers and abstracts. Go to clinical queries on the left and put Bisphenol A AND cancer into the search. Then read the abstracts. I think you will agree the jury is still out on this one.

  5. BHD
    January 15, 2008

    …and here was I coveting a Nalgene bottle. Thanks for the heads up, a perceptive post as usual…will look into it.

  6. DRock
    January 15, 2008

    Good thing my water bottle made out of lead, and lined with asbestos.

  7. January 17, 2008

    We decided to use our Nalgene bottles (we were gifted two a few years back) as protective waterproof containers for when we’re out trekking. A bottle could easily hold a small point-and-shoot digital camera, a mobile phone, a wallet, an extra shirt and underwear, and more! Just a suggestion for those of you out there who decide you’d rather not drink from a Nalgene but don’t want to add it to the world’s pile of indestructible garbage!

    • bicyclemark
      January 17, 2008

      I really like this tip! Thanks padma!

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