Bugs in a Bottle

Published January 1, 2003

Lots of folks like to keep plastic water bottles at their desks or in their car.

Good idea, right?

Maybe not.

A study in the Canadian Journal of Public Health suggests your water bottle could be making you sick. Researchers collected and studied more than 75 plastic, reusable water bottles from a Canadian elementary school.

Thirty-four samples collected showed bacterial contamination. Cathy Ryan, a University of Calgary professor and the study’s author, suggests the bacteria most likely came from children’s hands and mouths since they always used the same bottles without washing and drying them.

Okay, we know you’re thinking kids tend to be less hygienic than adults. While that may be true, the results could be similar anywhere, including in your car or workplace.

Here are five health tips to keep in mind when you reach for your water bottle:

1. Wash hands thoroughly after using the bathroom.

2. Do not share water bottles.

3. Do not reuse a water bottle without washing it.

4. Wash your water bottle it in hot, soapy water. A quick rinse will not do.

5. Allow bottles to air-dry. Drying helps kill bacteria.

IT’S YOUR HEALTH is written by Conrad Meier, senior fellow in health policy at The Heartland Institute. This program is produced as a public service by Radio America. Meier passed away unexpectedly on March 18, 2005.