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Beware! Liquor in PET bottles toxic
Ruchika M Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 31
A recent research that is sure to spoil the party of those consuming country-made liquor in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh has shown that some toxic components in PET bottles migrate to the beverages stored in them, a fact that could even lead to cancer.

Over the past few years, the excise policy in the three states and the UT has led to complete switchover from glass to PET bottles. Though Punjab excise policy for this year laid down that 90 per cent of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles be used by country liquor distilleries, most of the distillers have completely switched over to PET bottles, with just two per cent of new glass bottles being used.

Similarly, the Haryana Excise Policy 2009 states that 22.5 per cent new glass bottles were to be used for filling country liquor. However, none of the eight distilleries in the state used glass bottles and instead, used the cheaper PET bottles.

Research has now shown that toxic antimony species is found in all beverages that are stored in PET bottles. Acetaldehyde from these bottles migrates into the components stored inside. This can lead to mutagenicity, which means that the tissue in the body can turn carcinogenic with continuous exposure to acetaldehyde.

Speaking to The Tribune, Dr Mridula Mahajan, professor, biochemistry, Government Medical College, Amritsar, said though raw research had not yet been done in this region, research done elsewhere in the world had proved the harmful effects of storing liquor in PET bottles. “We are now contemplating an exhaustive study in this region to study its effects on human health here,” she said.

Though the FDA has approved the storage of water, soda and aerated beverages, the use of PET bottles for liquor is recommended only in areas where temperature is not as high as in India. “In such high temperature, migration of toxic components from PET bottles to liquor is most likely to happen, as has been proved in several research papers published abroad,” said Mahajan.

Other than being a health hazard, these PET bottles are also a major pollutant. It is estimated that as many as 40 crore plastic bottles are used annually to pack country-made liquor in these three states and the UT. As these bottles have no resale value, they are often thrown into rivers and streams, besides land fill sites. This plastic layer that will be formed will not only hamper the recharge of ground water, but also make agriculture impossible in areas where such huge quantity of plastic has been discarded.



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