Estrogenic activity, selected plasticizers and potential health risks associated with bottled water in South Africa

16 May 2019

Potential endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are present in bottled water from various countries. In South Africa (SA), increased bottled water consumption and concomitant increases in plastic packaging create important consequences for public health. This study aimed to screen SA bottled water for estrogenic activity, selected target chemicals and assessing potential health risks. Ten bottled water brands were exposed to 20 °C and 40 °C over 10 days. Estrogenic activity was assessed using the recombinant yeast estrogen screen (YES) and the T47D-KBluc reporter gene assay. Solid phase extracts of samples were analyzed for bis(2-ethylhexyl) adipate (DEHA), selected phthalates, bisphenol-A (BPA), 4-nonylphenol (4-NP), 17β-estradiol (E2), estrone (E1), and ethynylestradiol (EE2) using gas chromatography–mass spectrophotometry. Using a scenario-based health risk assessment, human health risks associated with bottled water consumption were evaluated. Estrogenic activity was detected at 20 °C (n = 2) and at 40 °C (n = 8). Estradiol equivalent (EEq) values ranged from 0.001 to 0.003 ng/L. BPA concentrations ranged from 0.9 ng/L to 10.06 ng/L. Although EEqs and BPA concentrations were higher in bottled water stored at 40 °C compared to 20 °C, samples posed an acceptable risk for a lifetime of exposure. Irrespective of temperature, bottled water from SA contained chemicals with acceptable health risks.