PepsiCo Inc. has agreed to add the words "public water source" to their Aquafina water labels.
Pepsi's Aquafina, and Coca-Cola Co.'s Dasani bottled waters, are both made of purified water from public reservoirs. Coca-Cola will post online consumer information about the quality control testing that goes into their bottled water, sometime near the end of summer, or early fall 2007.
Critics against the bottled water industry point out that they add plastic to landfills, use enormous amounts of energy and gas by producing and shipping bottles across the globe, and undermine public confidence in the safety of public water supplies.
Some cities have already taken proactive steps in trying to curb bottled water consumption. The mayor of San Francisco has banned city employees from using city funds to buy bottled water if tap water is available, and Ann Arbor, Michigan has passed a resolution banning commercially bottled water at city events.
Sun Sentinel July 27, 2007
The United States sold 2.6 billion cases of bottled water in 2006, according to Beverage Digest, which equates to U.S. consumers spending about $15 billion on bottled water in one year. Worldwide sales top out at more than $35 billion. That’s not chump change!
Drinking pure water is one of the most important things you can do for your health, particularly when you drink it instead of sugary drinks like soda or juice. However, relying on bottled water to keep you hydrated is not the best answer.
You may be paying premium prices for bottled water, thinking it’s more pure than your local water supply. But the toll this takes on the environment, not to mention your pocketbook, is enormous.
The Questionable Safety of Bottled Water
The fact that water is bottled is NOT an assurance of purity. In fact, about 40 percent of bottled water is regular tap water, which may or may not have received any additional treatment.
The metal antimony (a silvery white metal of medium hardness) has been found in many commercially bottled water brands, for example. The amount of antimony leeching into the water you're drinking depends on the manufacturer, and can vary greatly. One study that looked at 63 brands of bottled water produced in Europe and Canada, found concentrations of antimony that were more than 100 times the typical level found in clean groundwater (2 parts per trillion). It also found that the longer a bottle of water sits on a shelf -- in a grocery store or your refrigerator – the greater the dose of antimony present.
After letting bottled water samples sit for six months on a shelf at normal room temperatures, the concentration of antimony exploded by 90 percent among European brands, and 19 percent in Canadian brands. The common denominator? The biggest offenders were packaged in polyethylene terephthalate (PET) containers. It is believed that the amount of antimony leeching from these PET bottles differs based on exposure to sunlight, higher temperatures, and varying pH levels.
Most municipal tap water -- though generally far from pure -- must also adhere to stricter purity standards than the bottled water industry. In one study, a third of more than 100 bottled water brands tested for contaminants were found to contain chemicals like arsenic and carcinogenic compounds, at levels exceeding state or industry standards.
Additionally, fluoride (a highly toxic bone poison that should be avoided at all costs) is usually present in both tap water AND filtered bottled water.
Even MORE Important Reasons to Avoid Bottled Water
The burden of all these plastic bottles on the environment cannot be ignored. They mount up in landfills, litter the streets and highways, and collect in huge sludge-like stews in seas, rivers and oceans worldwide, killing wildlife wherever it is found. And if it kills wildlife you can be rest assured there will be potential future problems for you and your descendants.
Plastic pollution has even entered the food chain, and it's not just marine animals that are being affected. You, too, are ingesting minute levels of plastics every day, which means you're exposed to a potentially deadly mix of plastic chemicals and additives, including:
- Cancer-causing PFOAs
- PBDEs, which cause reproductive problems
- The reproductive toxins, phthalates
- BPA, which disrupts the endocrine system by mimicking the female hormone estrogen
What is the result of breathing, eating, drinking and absorbing all of this plastic? Obesity, declining fertility rates and other reproductive problems, cancer and more. Children are particularly vulnerable, as they are exposed to plastics in the hospital, and through baby bottles and toys, from the moment they’re born.
Your Healthiest Options
Your best bet for ensuring good health, and protecting the environment, is to filter your own water at home using a reverse osmosis filter. Avoid drinking unfiltered tap water, as chlorine and fluoride (which are added to most municipal water supplies) are toxic chemicals that should not be consumed in large quantities.
Do not make the mistake of thinking you can tell if your water is safe or not by the way it looks, tastes, or smells. Some contaminants in water are so harmful they’re measured in “parts per million,” or “parts per billion.” This means that just a drop of these poisons added to several gallons of water can be harmful to your health.
Keep in mind also that installing a filter to purify your drinking water alone may not be enough. Since your skin absorbs both water and chemicals, you could still be exposing yourself to contaminations when you:
- Shower or bathe
- Wash your hands
- Wash laundry
- Rinse fruits and vegetables
- Wash dishes, glasses, and other utensils
You can further limit your exposure to these dangerous plastic (and other) chemicals by filtering all of the water you and your family use on a daily basis.
I have been working on coming up with some solid recommendations for specific filtration systems for the past seven years. I continue to do research. There are many great options out there but I am looking for the best value, and highest quality, which provides an enormous challenge. I honestly believe I am getting closer, as I finally located a major element of the equation last week and I am hopeful to provide a GREAT solution by year's end.
In the meantime, PLEASE avoid bottled water for all the reasons described above. Clearly the best long term option for you and the planet is to effectively filter your water.