Polyethylene Terephthalate May Yield Endocrine Disruptors

Environmental Health Perspectives


Background: Recent reports suggest that endocrine disruptors may leach into the contents of bottles made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET). PET is the main ingredient in most clear plastic containers used for beverages and condiments worldwide and has previously been generally assumed not to be a source of endocrine disruptors.
Objective: I begin by considering evidence that bottles made from PET may leach various phthalates that have been putatively identified as endocrine disruptors. I also consider evidence that leaching of antimony from PET containers may lead to endocrine-disrupting effects.
Discussion: The contents of the PET bottle, and the temperature at which it is stored, both appear to influence the rate and magnitude of leaching.  Endocrine disruptors other than phthalates, specifically antimony, may also contribute to the endocrine-disrupting effect of water from PET containers.
Conclusions: More research is needed in order to clarify the mechanisms whereby beverages and condiments in PET containers may be contaminated by endocrine-disrupting chemicals.

Published in Environmental Health Perspectives, volume 118, pp. 445 – 448, 2010.

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My commentary on the possible risks of PET triggered a hostile reply from Ralph Vasami, director of the trade group representing manufacturers of PET.

You can read his letter, and my answer to his letter here. This is a two-page PDF and my reply to Vasami is on the second page.