Summer Reminder: Bring Lead-Safe Refillable Non-Plastic Water Bottles

As summer has started to sizzle, an environmental health group advised the public, especially those taking part in caravans, motorcades, rallies and other poll campaign activities, to make it a habit to bring water in reusable non-plastic containers to keep hydrated.

“We are one with the refill and reuse movement in urging everyone to ditch single-use plastic water bottles,” said Jove Benosa, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition, noting that the production of disposable water bottles consumes fossil fuels and contributes to climate change, as well as add to plastic pollution damaging the natural environment, including the oceans. 

“Bringing water in a reusable container everytime you go out will cut your consumption of bottled water and help in reducing fossil fuel use and the resulting pollution that is warming and toxifying the planet,” he said.  

According to the research done by Euromonitor, the global consumption of plastic bottles continues to rise.  From 300 billion in 2004, plastic bottles sold in 2016 rose to 480 billion, and was estimated to have reached 583.3 billion in 2021.  Around the world, one million plastic bottles are reportedly sold every minute.   

"If you're going out to work, pay bills, shop, worship, or engage in fun outdoor or election related campaign activities, please bring with you water in reusable containers," he emphasized.  "Poll candidates and their supporters who brave the sweltering heat should carry a refillable water bottle, preferably a non-plastic container, and stay hydrated all day long."

“With proper maintenance, a good quality stainless steel reusable water bottle can last for a very long time,” he suggested.

While food-grade stainless steel water bottles are preferred, the EcoWaste Coalition advised the public to pick the unpainted ones over the painted ones, especially if there is no assurance that the surface coating is safe from lead.

Lead, a potent neurotoxin, is no longer allowed in paint manufacturing as per DENR Administrative Order 2013-24, or the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compound, the group said.

According to the group’s periodic market investigation, some stainless steel water bottles, including vacuum flasks and insulated water bottles and tumblers, may be decorated with paints with lead content surpassing the regulatory limit of 90 parts per million (ppm) . Some samples may even contain dangerously high amounts of lead exceeding 10,000 to over 100,000 ppm, the group said.

“This is deeply concerning as the surface coating on the exterior of a metal water bottle will chip over time with frequent use and accidental dropping on the floor.  If lead paint was used, the lead on the paint may end up being ingested by the user, especially by a child who is unaware of the health risk,” the group said, noting that “lead is toxic if ingested and can cause adverse health problems, especially for vulnerable populations like children and pregnant women.” 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “lead is toxic and is harmful to everyone.” 

“Young children are most vulnerable (to lead exposure)," the WHO said.  "Their nervous systems are still developing and they absorb 4-5 times more lead than adults, which can cause intellectual disability, underperforming at school and behavioral issues.” 

“Lead also causes long-term harm in adults, including increased risk of high blood pressure and kidney damage. Exposure of pregnant women to high levels of lead can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and low birth weight,” the WHO further said.