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on aquarium: leached plastic bottle toxins meet ecological coatings?

11/30/09

while puttering along with the plastic bottle pipe experimenting, started thinking about the fear of leached toxins from plastic bottles that bounced around the news at the beginning of the millenium. aside from the bad eco-karma of the single-use water bottle, the issues that freaked out both single- and repeat- bottle users were that 1) bottles are hard to clean/sterilize and so accumulate bacteria and 2) polyethylene terephthalate (PET)–the standard plastic used for beverage bottles–releases harmful toxins with repeated use, specifically bisphenol a (bpa), a synthetic chemical that screws with hormones and has been linked to cancers, impaired immunity, early onset of puberty, obesity, diabetes, miscarriage, hyperactivity, low testosterone levels, etc. etc. etc. this article on going-well.com gives a cliffnotes breakdown on the good, bad, and ugly on plastic bottle leaches.

being that we’re splicing up the bottles and don’t have to worry about sterilizing through a tiny hole like some very painful bladder test no one ever wants to take, the first issue isn’t a concern for aquarium. but the second one… well, somehow feeding plants and fish and bioluminescent anything with water that’s been filtered only to be contaminated just doesn’t seem to jive with what reclamation’s about.

though seems to be lots of going back and forth on the subject these days in the land of the yay/naysayers. the oregon environmental council and environment california research & policy center, among others, say no to reusing single-use bottles. the fda has since stated that PET products are not chemically harmful with reuse. what to do? who to believe?

am wondering what if we stayed on the safe side of things, and tried coating the inside of the bottles with an eco-friendly non-toxic coating/lacquer/varnish? like those made by a company called ecological coatings? but is it overkill in light of the fda announcements? or is it a necessary solution in light of the cautionary voices? is the fda blind-eyeing as it eats fruit basket goodies sent courtesy of the plastic people? or are the environmentalists conspiracy theorists who’ve watched one too many bad cop movies? for aquarium, sans coating is obviously a better choice in terms of cost and time. at this moment in time, don’t know how expensive the coating would be, but it will be more than $0 and no doubt coating the bottles and waiting for them to dry will be more laborious, but if it turns out the skeptics are on the money, then it’s the right thing to do… unless the coating is not enough to prevent toxic leach, in which case the coating quandry’s a moot point.

how to know without ringing up some of the bottle naysayers and picking their brains. seems like the most reasonable next step in this whole thing which is oddly throwing me back to problems posed in nerd camp class on logic and probability that racked my wee brain (wee-er than the rest of the class much to my teacher’s exasperation, who seemed more queen of hearts than aristotle to me. though to be fair, i imagine i was more primordial mush than human to her. but i digress. a lot. so i will end this post here).

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