A new study published August 28, 2013 in the online peer-reviewed scientific journal PLOS ONE illuminates what substance may be responsible for previously reported endocrine activity in commercial bottled waters. 18 retail samples packaged in polyethylene terephthalate (PET), glass or carton were purchased in France, Italy and Germany. Using yeast based assays, the researchers tested all samples for antiandrogenic (16 of 18 samples positive) and antiestrogenic activity (13 of 18 positive). Next, they used an advanced chemical analytical method for non-targeted high-resolution mass spectrometry (LTQ-Orbitrap Velos) to identify possible hormone active compounds in the water samples. In 14 antiandrogenic samples, the substance di(2-ethylhexyl) fumarate (DEHF, CAS #141-02-6) was identified. DEHF is an antiandrogen, however its presence alone cannot account for the entire observed antiandrogenic effect. Thus, the authors speculate that further, structurally related substances like dioctyl maleate (DOM) or dioctyl fumarate (DOF) may be present.

DEHF and DOM are authorized as indirect food additives in the U.S.. The present study permits no conclusions to be drawn as to the sources of DEHF. Further research on the group of maleates and fumarates, that are structurally related to the phthalates, is needed.

A new article by the Food Packaging Forum reports about the study in detail and discusses its findings.

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New report by FPF: New study identifies candidates for hormonal activity in bottled waters. The Food Packaging Forum. September 4, 2013.

Worrying molecule found in bottled water. RSC Chemical World. September 9, 2013.