PET bottles for medicines and soft drinks to continue despite proven health issues

But the government wants to double per capita consumption of plastics


The presence of pesticides in Coke, Pepsi and hordes of other soft drinks is old news that was told by a CSE report in 2006, but even the ubiquitously present water bottles have a fatal concoction of pesticides as a new study reveals. As the ‘modern’ humans are always armed with these bottles, whether traveling or going to work, their very health that they love to protect as they prefer to quench their thrust from this ‘safe’, ‘mineral’ water is threatened, as these pesticides could also transmigrate from the plastic to the water.

And, to the PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles people carry medicines that should supposedly make them healthy or even ‘unhealthy,’ as many booze bottles are now plastic, not glass.

On the behest of Jan Jagriti Manch, an NGO from Uttarakhand, government laboratories: the National Test House, Calcutta, and the Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, Lucknow, conducted a study that revealed the presence of deadly chemicals in the plastic bottles used for soft drinks and alcoholic beverages.

The NGO has now petitioned the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to ban these PET bottles. The government laboratories tested juices, beverages, alcohol and oil packaged in PET bottles.

Many harmful elements such as antimony, lead and cadmium were found in these bottles, far exceeding the prescribed standards (the standard for packaged water and mineral water is IS: 13428: 2005). To make it up to the mark, the presence of diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) was measured as per the US-EPA standards. And, these chemicals don’t just remain confined to the bottles, but migrate to the products because of leaching of such harmful chemicals into the content of the bottles at higher temperature.

DEHP is an endocrine disruptor and a carcinogenic, banned in many countries, including France and Denmark. Antimony leads to increased blood pressure and heart muscle damage, lead results in kidney damage, and cadmium causes respiratory tract infections.

Manufactures don’t care a bit as there are no standards and the safety limits of certain chemicals such as antimony and DEHP are not mentioned. The Bureau of Indian Standards doesn’t consider the migration of these chemicals into the food items.

Sadly, the government ignored the advice of the Indian Council for Medical Research had recommended in 2014 to ban these bottles for drugs meant for children and pregnant women. But the pharma and the plastic packaging lobbies have opposed the ban, and it continued.

Now, the ball is in the court of the NGT that may ultimately ban it, but as the present Indian Government loves the plastic since petroleum and natural gas minister Dharmendra Pradhan has an ambitious plans of doubling the current per capita consumption of plastics from the present 10kg per person to 20kg by 2022, use of PET bottles is bound to increase by leaps and bounds in all probability.

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