If you’re guilty of leaving water bottles in your car, whether it be clutter or a backup source of hydration, then it’s time to quit the habit. Firefighters are warning drivers about the hazard that clear water bottles pose.
Specifically, Oklahoma’s Midwest City Fire Department conducted a test to find that water bottles magnify sunlight. This can make it reach a temperature as high as 250°F. The risk is that such high temperatures can potentially start a fire in your vehicle’s interiors in places like fabric seats or mats. Yikes.
“The sunlight will come through, when it’s filled with liquid, and act as a magnifying glass as you would with regular optics,” MCFD’s David Richardson tells news channel KFOR. “It uses the liquid and the clear material to develop a focused beam and sure enough, it can actually cause a fire, a combustion.”
As such, officials advise drivers to keep their water bottles tucked away and not inside their car when they’re not in use.
Water bottles in cars could be injurious to health. Dr. Lance Williams, professor of biology at the University of Texas at Tyler, tells KXTV that when people drink from a bottle and leave it in a hot car, they give bacteria an opportunity to grow. Then, when they go in for a drink at a later time, they place themselves at risk.
As for the train of thought that leaving plastic water bottles in a hot car leaves the consumer at risk for cancer, that is unverified. According to ATTN, the myth spread in 2007 when chain emails alleged that water bottles in hot cars may contain diethylhexyl adipate (DEHA). The same emails called DEHA a possible carcinogen, but the scientific community has yet to find proof, CBS reports.