A team of researchers in Germany has identified an endocrine-disrupting chemical (EDC) found in samples taken from commercial bottled water. In their paper published in PLoS ONE, the team describes the methods they used to isolate the EDC found in the water samples.
EDCs (man-made compounds used in many plastics) have been found to interfere with hormonal systems in several types of organisms—particularly in reproductive and development activities. They have come to light as it has been determined that several types of EDCs are present in plastics that are used to store food or water. Bisphenol A is one such notorious chemical that was until recently found in the plastic makeup of baby bottles. In this new effort, the researchers sought to determine if there were EDCs seeping into water consumers buy in bottles, and if so, which ones they might be.
The researchers started by collecting data gathered by other researchers and medical entities. They looked for specific instances of antiestrogenic and antiandrogenic activity among 18 bottled water products. They found that 13 of the samples displayed antiestrogenic activity while 16 caused antiandrogenic activity. This confirmed their suspicions that the water samples had some amounts of EDC in them. They had a lot to choose from, however, as their study revealed 24,520 different chemicals in the water samples.
To discover which EDC in particular was in the water samples, the researchers used mass spectrometric simulations to winnow down the likely candidates. This led them to di(2-ethylhexyl) fumarate (DEHF). Subsequent chemical tests on the water samples confirmed their findings.
There was one glitch in the study, however—to date, the team reports, there is evidence implicating DEHF as only being antiestrogenic, which suggests either that there is another EDC in the water, or that more research needs to be done to discern if DEHF is also antiandrogenic. The authors note also that no one really knows if DEHF is harmful to people, or if it is, how much must be present for it to present a hazard. Thus, more research must be undertaken to find out if DEHF, like Bisphenol A needs to be banned from use in plastics used to process or contain food products.