A row of shelves in the back of Coast Mountain Sports sits empty.
This is where the popular and famously durable Nalgene water bottles used to be displayed.
In their place, notices are posted:
“Due to recent concerns over possible health risks associated with certain polycarbonate plastics, we have made the decision to remove all food and beverage containers with these materials from store shelves.”
“We had talked about taking them off the shelves before,” said assistant manager Lars Johansson.
“But when MEC pulled their bottles, it made it easy for us.”
Earlier this month Mountain Equipment Co-op pulled all containers that contain the questionable material.
The sporting chains aren’t the only ones pulling the bottles.
This week, Whitehorse decided to stop selling similar bottles at the Canada Games Centre.
The city put in a call to the territory’s Medical Health Officer Dr. Bryce Larke, said Mayor Bev Buckway.
“We want to find out what his take on this is, and then we’ll act accordingly,” said Buckway.
The bottles are not an item that is actively sold at the centre.
“We just have a few things on hand in case people need them,” said Art Manhire, a manager at the centre.
“We’re waiting for the health officer’s response. In the meantime, we won’t be selling the bottles.”
The polycarbonate plastics used to make most Nalgene and Nalgene-like bottles pose serious health risks, according to experts.
They can be easily identified by the recycling code 7 on the bottom of the bottles.
They are dangerous because of a chemical called Bisphenol-A, which is a building block in the plastic.
The chemical, which can leach into drinks and foods in the containers, is very similar to the hormone estrogen.
Tests have found that exposure in animals caused brain damage, hyperactivity and higher dopamine levels, which is widely considered to be the cause of Attention Deficit Disorder.
It can also lead to breast cancer, prostate cancer and diabetes.
Health Canada has limited the chemical’s use based on a tolerable daily intake of 25 micrograms per kilogram of body weight per day.
But this is based on tests done in the 1980s and could actually be 1,000 times higher than the amount found to cause adverse effects.
Government scientists are currently reviewing their stance amidst this new information on the chemical.
Nalgene has responded to accusations by assuring consumers that Bisphenol-A exists only in very low residual levels in their bottles.
But experts have demonstrated that this might not be low enough.
Dangers can exist at the parts-per-trillion levels and Nalgene contains Bisphenol-A at the parts-per-million level, according to its website.
“During our peak tourist season, we used to sell around 30 Nalgene bottles a week,” said Johansson.
“But people are very concerned, I don’t think that we’ve sold 30 bottles in the past five weeks.”
However, this obvious decline in sales hasn’t hurt the business.
“Sales have been shifting,” said Johansson.
“We’ve sold a lot more aluminum bottles lately and we’ve got a big order of stainless steel bottles coming in.”
The store also continues to sell other Nalgene bottles that aren’t made of polycarbonates.
The rest are packed up and stored in the back of the store for an indefinite period of time.
“The whole thing is in a holding pattern,” said Johansson.
“We’re waiting for Health Canada to make a decision and Nalgene still hasn’t released an official comment.”
The store has not decided yet whether it will allow customers to return the questionable bottles for a refund, said Johansson.
“We hadn’t though about that, but if we did do it, I don’t think the store should have to take all the damage.”