Bottled water -- a $22-billion industry -- is the fastest growing beverage industry in the world. Close to half of the U.S. population drinks bottled water on a regular basis, despite the fact that it can be up to 1,000 times more expensive than the tap.
With bottled water sales rising rapidly -- U.S. sales rose 11.5 percent in 2001 to reach close to $6.5 billion -- environmental and consumer groups are asking: is bottled water really a better option than tap water?
Is Bottled Water Pure?
About one-quarter of U.S. bottled water comes from a municipal water source. The industry maintains that no illness outbreaks have ever been linked to U.S. bottled water.
However, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) conducted a study of 103 brands of bottled water (over 1,000 bottles were tested in all) and found that one-third contained synthetic organic chemicals and bacteria.
One sample even contained arsenic levels above state health limits.
The NRDC maintains that city tap water is required to undergo more rigorous testing and has higher purity standards than bottled water.
Is There an Environmental Toll?
The plastic bottles in which bottled water is typically sold are made of plastic polyethylene terephthalate, or PET. The manufacture of these bottles can release phathalates, which have been found to cause birth defects in animals, into the environment.
The International Bottled Water Association says that the bottles are recyclable and are reused up to 100 times before being made into other products.
Worldwide consumption of bottled water increased by nearly 60 percent to 41 billion gallons in 2004. We are on track toward more than 50 billion gallons this year.
Imagine that, 50 billion gallons of bottled water.
Like most things in life there are positive and negative aspects to this trend. The major benefit of course is that water is the fluid we were all designed to drink, and drinking it as a primary beverage is the first step anyone seeking to improve their physical health habits should take.
Drinking enough pure water is vital to your health. It's best to sip the water throughout the day, rather than consume large quantities at once. If you drink a quart of water at a time most of the water will pass through your body before you're able to use it, so sip it slowly throughout the day rather than gulping it down a few times a day.
If you are addicted to soda and have not made the transition to using water as your primary fluid, then you might consider the powerful and free energy psychology tool called Turbo Tapping. It has worked very effectively for many of my patients.
Using bottled water can help you avoid chlorine as nearly all bottled waters are not chlorinated. However, many are merely filtered tap water. While typical filtering removes chlorine, it does not remove fluoride.
If you don't understand why fluoride in your water is a bone poison that you want to avoid, then please read our review of The Fluoride Deception. This is a book I would have written if Christopher Bryson hadn't beat me to it. You can also review our fluoride article links, What Your Dentist Isn't Telling You About Fluoride, for more information on the dangers of fluoride.
What is Wrong With Bottled Water?
The downside of the tsunami of bottled water that has flooded the market is the enormous strain on the environment this is producing. You don't need an advanced degree in astrophysics to understand that you were designed to drink water around where you live.
With the price of gasoline rising faster than nearly everyone's paycheck, it has become painfully obvious how much it costs to transport water over long distances. Not only are there wasteful costs in transporting this water but enormous amounts of energy are used to created the bottles that store this 50 billion gallons of water.
Once you get past the energy issue you will still have to contend with the type of plastic that the bottle is stored in, as there are many potentially dangerous types of plastic.
Conventional Nalgene bottles should be avoided. I recommend using the wide-mouth Nalgene bottles that are made from safer plastic. I found them at www.campmor.com. The wide mouth allows them to be easily cleaned so they don't accumulate bacteria. I bring my water to my office with me in a glass container, as that is better. It is just difficult to travel with glass due to the obvious safety reasons.
So ideally it would be best to avoid using all disposable bottled water sources. Water delivered to your home in reusable five-gallon jugs is not as big as an energy hog.
However, using water from your own well or municipal water supply that is filtered would be better. My staff and I are still investigating the enormous varieties of water filter units for your home and hope to share our recommendations with you later this year.
It is important to know that typically the only filter that is effective at removing the fluoride that is added to most municipal water supplies is a reverse osmosis filter. Although I have well water in my home that does not have fluoride added, I still use this type of filter personally.