It's a common practice in India to store drinking water in Polyethylene Terephthalate(commonly know as PET) bottles. It is also claimed in many health forums & newspapers articles that PET bottles shouldn't be used to store water for a prolonged time, generally 2-3 months after which it should be replaced by a new on. The articles claim chemical contamination of water.
Taking into account that drinking water at room temperature is stored in PET bottles, is it really harmful to store drinking water in PET bottles.
Also what should be the recycle period.


1 Answer 1


A recent meta-analysis of published literature on the subject was inconclusive. As of 2011, there was no scientific consensus on the question.

Genotoxic and estrogenic activities in PET-bottled water have been reported. Chemical mixtures in bottled water have been suggested as the source of these toxicological effects. Furthermore, sample preparation techniques, such as solid-phase extraction (SPE), to extract estrogen-like compounds in bottled water are controversial. It has been suggested that inappropriate extraction methods and sample treatment may result in false-negative or positive responses when testing water extracts in bioassays. There is therefore a need to combine chemical analysis with bioassays to carry out hazard assessments. Formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and antimony are clearly related to migration from PET into water. However, several studies have shown other theoretically unexpected substances in bottled water. The origin of these compounds has not been clearly established (PET container, cap-sealing resins, background contamination, water processing steps, NIAS, recycled PET, etc.). [...] Our literature review shows that contradictory results for PET-bottled water have been reported, and differences can be explained by the wide variety of analytical methods, bioassays and exposure conditions employed.1

Please note that this answer does not constitute medical advice. It is only meant to summarize published research related to the topic and limited to the cited sources. Consult your physician about what these results may mean for your health.

  1. Water Res. 2012 Mar 1;46(3):571-83. "Chemical compounds and toxicological assessments of drinking water stored in polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles: A source of controversy reviewed." Bach C, Dauchy X, Chagnon MC, Etienne S. ANSES, Nancy Laboratory for Hydrology, Water Chemistry Department.
  • 1
    I found this a bit confusing to understand: Have I understood this right? Some report the water in PET bottles is toxic. People have tested the contents in different ways and got different results. Three chemicals, at least, are present and come from the PET. Other chemicals are present and come from somewhere - maybe the PET. [No comment is made on the toxicity of those chemicals.]
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Oct 27, 2013 at 5:29
  • 3
    I wish there was a better answer, but there does not seem to be consensus in the literature. I'll follow up on some of individual studies--it is an interesting topic. Unfortunately, science around consumer products is hopelessly entangled with commercial interests.
    – denten
    Commented Oct 27, 2013 at 22:36
  • Denten, that wasn't a complaint by me. It was just trying to understand where the science is.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Oct 27, 2013 at 23:48
  • I clarified the answer a bit to make the inconclusive results more apparent. Thank you all for comments.
    – denten
    Commented Oct 23, 2015 at 16:31
  • A reasonable interpretation of this is that the apparent contamination of water is a artefact of the analytical techniques used. I think a good summary of the paper would say that.
    – matt_black
    Commented Oct 24, 2015 at 11:07

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