Pediatrics How Can I Choose Safe Water Bottles for My Kids? By Pediatrics, July 18, 2014 Whether spending a day at the pool or the beach, Little League practices, or taking in a Major League game, water bottles are a great way to keep your kids hydrated and cool this season, but could they actually be dangerous? There are a number of water bottles on the market made from a variety of materials such as plastic, glass, or metal. Is one material safer than another? The bottle may have a picture of your child’s favorite cartoon character or sports team, but how will that bottle impact their overall health? While your kids are having fun and enjoying their summer, staying safe and sanitary isn’t always top-of-mind for them. However, as a parent, their health, hygiene, and hydration are certainly important to you! A few commonly asked questions are answered below so that you can be worry-free about your kids’ hydration this summer. Can a Bottled Water Bottle be Reused? Reusing a water bottle is safe if the bottle is thoroughly washed. Since the necks of many bottles are thin, they are often difficult to clean, which is how germs can find their way into your water. If you plan on reusing a bottle, it is best to wash it in warm, soapy water with a thin brush in order to disinfect the entire inside surface. Make sure to dry thoroughly to prevent the growth of bacteria. Can Water Bottles be Frozen? There is no evidence that freezing water bottles releases chemicals. If your kids are going to be outside in the summer sun for a long period of time, freezing their water bottles is a safe way to keep them cold. Is Bottled Water Safe? Bottled water is regulated by the FDA to make sure it follows the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) standards for quality, and is safe for you and your family to drink. Are there Chemicals in Reusable Plastic Water Bottles? Most plastic water bottles are safe, but if you’re unsure, you can refer to the recycling symbols that are imprinted on the bottom of most plastics. The symbols, which differentiate the types of plastic, look like three arrows in the shape of a triangle that surround a number from 1 to 7. Numbers 1, 2, 4, and 5 are safe to use for food and drink. Bottles that say “BPA-free” in addition to one of these numbers are also safe. Materials with a 3, 6, or 7 should be avoided for use with food and beverages. What Is BPA, and Why Is It Dangerous? BPA stands for bisphenol A and is a chemical that can be found in certain plastics that are sometimes used in the packaging of food and drinks. Because BPA mimics estrogen, some researchers believe that BPA can have negative health effects, and these effects may pose the biggest threat to infants and unborn babies. If you are concerned about BPA, avoid water bottles with the recycling codes 3 or 7 because these may contain polycarbonate — the type of plastic known to contain bisphenol A. Are Metal or Glass Bottles Safe? If you are going to use a metal bottle, make sure it is stainless steel and not aluminum because they may not contain the liner that is required to meet food grade requirements. Freezing or heating stainless steel is not recommended since it can alter the shape. Glass bottles do not contain BPA, and although some are shatter-proof, they are not recommended as a first option for kids. In addition to looking for BPA-free water bottles made of safe plastics, stainless steel, or glass, make sure your kids know not to share water bottles with anyone because it can lead to the spread of germs. Most importantly, make sure you and your kids are drinking plenty of water this season to beat the heat and promote overall health. To find out how you can make sure your child stays healthy this summer and is off to a good start for the upcoming school year, visit the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC website or call 412-692-5325 to schedule an appointment.