Nothing surprises me anymore. Six weeks ago SIGG announced that their aluminum water bottles -- you know, the ones that everyone bought in order to avoid BPA -- actually contained BPA. Now that surprised me. Since that time, I still have not figured out how to resolve my own personal water bottle situation. I want to carry a reusable water bottle. Honestly, I do. I'm on the go a lot, and I drink a lot of water. Ditto for my kids. But I really can't figure out whom to trust.  

Case in point ... the news this morning that Gaiam's aluminum water bottles -- the ones that were previously labeled "BPA-free," actually leach BPA at 20 times the levels that SIGG bottles did.  

Last week, the website Z recommends published a report that called out Gaiam on the BPA status of their aluminum water bottles -- bottles that were very clearly being sold as "BPA-free." Today, the company has quietly (on its retail website) provided the data from independent lab test results that show BPA leaching levels at 23.8 parts per billion. These findings are more than 10 times the detection limit that SIGG provided in its own water bottle testing and over 18 times more than the leaching levels found in independent studies of SIGG water bottles.

Here is the new wording added to the product description for Gaiam's aluminum water bottles:

  • The internal surface of our aluminum water bottles is coated with a thin, food-grade epoxy resin that meets U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) 175.300 requirements for toxic elements in foodware. (This lining is neither required nor industry standard for stainless steel bottles.)
  • We also asked our water bottle manufacturer to comprehensively test our aluminum bottles for BPA, using industry-standard test methods. No detectable levels of BPA were found in the gasket, the cap or the coating material in testing under normal use and care conditions.
  • While there is no government or industry standard in place for BPA levels acceptable in food and beverage containers, our aluminum and stainless steel water bottles are compliant with all existing federal government rules for food and beverage containers.
  • We also took additional steps to help ensure your safety via independent laboratory tests that go well beyond FDA requirements. An independent lab subjected our aluminum water bottles to continuous extreme heat — nearly 200 degrees Fahrenheit — in an environmental chamber for three days while the bottles were filled with water. Under these extreme conditions, a trace amount of BPA (23.8 parts per billion) was detected in the water inside the bottle. This test was performed under conditions outside the normal use and care conditions we recommend on our product packaging and shopping website. For example, we explain that the bottle should not be washed in a dishwasher or filled with any hot liquids.
Even though it may seem that the BPA testing was extreme, the folks at Z recommends point out that testing at 90 degrees Celsius for a three-day window is a standard testing procedure commonly seen in BPA testing, and was likely part of a standard block of tests for the bottles.

The news is disconcerting to say the least, especially in light of the study I posted about this morning linking prenatal BPA exposure to aggression in toddler girls. What's a green mom to do?

Photo: 1_800_thebear

Aluminum bottle manufacturer admits bottles leach BPA
Gaiam admits that bottles previously labeled "BPA-free" leach BPA at nearly 20 times SIGG’s levels.