Making plastic bottles safe

Making plastic bottles safe

What if your health was at risk every time you drank from a plastic bottle?

Almost all plastics contain chemicals that mimic the action of estrogen, the female hormone. Estrogenic activity (EA) can cause early puberty in girls, affect growth rates and learning abilities, alter reproductive function, and increase risk of some cancers. EA-causing chemicals leach into food and water from plastic containers.

An Austin company led by a UT professor has produced the first EA-free plastic. Neurobiology professor George Bittner is founder and CEO of the advanced-technology company PlastiPure. Its process for creating EA-free plastic has been patented.

“Once we recognized the prevalence of EA in all kinds of plastics used to hold everything from water to toothpaste, we went to work creating a safe alternative,” Bittner said.

Some retailers have pulled plastic products such as baby bottles and sports water bottles from their shelves because of the growing awareness of health problems associated with chemicals known as “endocrine disruptors,” including bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates. PlastiPure’s first product line, which became available in May 2008, includes 4-ounce to 32-ounce polyethylene or polypropylene bottles.

Bittner received his master’s in chemistry from Duke and his M.D. and Ph.D. from Stanford. He joined the UT Austin faculty in 1969. He received a Research Career Development Award from the National Institutes of Health and has been elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In addition to his work at UT Austin, he is an adjunct Professor at the Department of Physiology/Biophysics at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.