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General Climbing Discussion

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Toxic Climbing Water Bottles 9-Oct-2007 At 6:23:29 AM The Keeper
In a land legendary for scarcity of H20 - this one may seem ironic but we embrace optimism and the possibilities of climate change.

The National Geographic (US) Green Guide has recently published a couple of articles No. 121 -July/August, 2007 and No. 114 - May/June, 2006) on the toxicity present in
the popular Nalgene Brand Lexan (No.7 in the recyling triangle on the bottom of the containers) multi-colored water bottles. These bottles leach low levels of Bisphenol A
(BPA) a suspected hormone disruptor (hmm, could this explain the gnarly behavior of a certain sub-species of Queen'sland climbing vixen after-all?) A 1999 Japanese study published in the Japanese Journal of Health showed that with gentle washing, new bottles leached 3.5 parts per billion (ppb) into the water whilst extremely worn and scratched bottles leached levels of BPA as high as 28 ppb. A March 2005 study published in Food Additives and Contaminants showed that exposing the bottles to high heat or storing ethanol or corn oil (maybe even vegemite?) in them for 240 hours resulted in BPA migration as high as 64 ppb. There is presently no evidence that toxicity of the material is neutralized by the inherent properties of VB or other favoured
climbing essentials. BPA has been linked to obesity (not a problem in the honed mob of Aussie climbers) and breast cancer. A 2007 study published in PLoS Genetics showed that pregnant mice exposed to low levels of BPA yielded chromosomal abnormailities with may cause birth defects and miscarriages in grandchildren.

The Nalgene Lexan #7 bottles are extremely popular due to their durability, cute looks, lightweight and non-retention of odours ( from vegemite even? But their popularity primarily derives from the cool colors. With the cost of one of these bottles in the Perth Paddy Pallin store running double of that in Canada - it certainly can't be cost!

Not all Nalgene or other brand products are bad - those which are made from high density polyethylene (HDPE) as identified by #2 in the recycling triangle on the bottom of the container or #4 made from low density polyethylene (LDPE) are okay. I have recently trashed a pile of these No.7 containers as well as some other No.7 plastic
foodware but have retained by older Nalgene creamy white pastic #2 containers.
A number of other alternate containers ie. Platypus #5 collapsible water bottles, Sigg resin coated aluminum sport bottles and Nalgene HDPE Loop-Top Bottles, are available.

So there you have it - some brain food from an immaculate source - National Geographic - an icon of quality like the Celine Dion, the Canadian national rugby side
Molson's Canadian, Squamish Granite and the Trailer Park Boys.

Remember that plastic #1 containers are single use only - they leach all sorts of bad news materials and are excellent sites for other nasty biocritters.

Checking our local Coast Mountain store , I find that Nalgene #7s rule the shelves and my last visit to Mountain Equipment Co-op showed that there were floor to ceiling shelves filled with these time bombs - right next to all the neat climbing gear (and rows of salivating visiting Aussies going bonkers buying stuff to take back to the vegemite islet). I have written MEC and asked them how the dispersion of this unfriendly product meshes with their proclaimed high environmental standards and ethics in product lines. No answer yet but I will press the issue.

So time to pull the old wineskins out of storage and maintain a healthy inventory of tins of VB or Kokanee in the old climbing tucker bag.

If everyone shifts their purchases to the old Nalgene #2 bottles we can nip this problem in the bud. Nalgene may not be high on environmental ethics for their product lines but they are probably not too dumb when it comes to financial pressures.

Climb clean and keep the crags clean. Join an local access group and pitch in - small actions combined with others can make a different world. When I am thrashing the old bones around at Squamish, Jtree, or Araps, I take the time to pick up free ranging plastic debris, bottle glass, moldering vegemite jars, whatever. It is everyones responsibility to be part of the solution and not be the problem. Climbers fixate on leading hard and gnarly routes - let's lead on environmental responsiblity as well.

PS I missed the games but looks like that game against Canada lulled the Wallabies into a stupor and down they went - the All Blacks too. Wonders never cease to arrive and amaze! :) :)

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