Rumors and Myths Brief: Plastic Water Bottle Email


Issue: Email Circulating About Safety of Plastic Water Bottles

Background: The original version of this email begins by saying “Many are unaware of poisoning caused by re-using plastic bottles,” and says “bottles are safe for one-time use only; if you must keep them longer, it should be or no more than a few days, a week max, and keep them away from heat as well.” The email says the bottles contain diethylhexyl adipate (DEHA), which it calls a potential carcinogen. A 2007 version of the email quotes an unidentified doctor as saying women should not drink bottled water that has been left in a car because the heat and the plastic of the bottle have certain chemicals that can lead to breast cancer.

Facts: These emails are apparently based on a student’s college thesis. In fact, DEHA is not inherent in the plastic used to make these bottles, and even if it was, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says DEHA "cannot reasonably be anticipated to cause cancer, teratogenic effects, immunotoxicity, neurotoxicity, gene mutations, liver, kidney, reproductive, or developmental toxicity or other serious or irreversible chronic health effects." Meanwhile, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), says DEHA "is not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans."

This analysis was conducted by the American Cancer Society’s communications staff. More information on internet hoaxes can be found at these sites: