By Dr. Mercola
You've probably heard a lot about bottled water. That it's healthier for you than tap water, that it can replace your vitamins, that it's really only tap water and how environmentally unfriendly it is.
With this type of conflicting information about water, it's easy to get confused. Let's see if we can help you cut through the clutter and lead you down the path to healthier water consumption.
There's no sense in sugar-coating it. Bottled water is destructive to the environment. It is a fact that 67 million water bottles are thrown away each day.
That's a staggering amount of waste considering only 10 percent of these water bottles are ever recycled. Despite the good reputation recycling has, this practice is not always best for the ecosystem as it is labor-intensive, costly and burns natural resources. Also, just because you are throwing your used water bottles into the recycling bin, it does not necessarily mean they are able to be recycled.
Another problem with bottled water is the incredible amount of fuel needed to transport these heavy loads of plastic (and sometimes glass) bottles to your local supermarket, home or office.
Where Your Bottled Water REALLY Comes From
About 40 percent of bottled water is nothing more than bottled tap water! So not only might you still be drinking all the chemicals you were trying to avoid in the first place, you may be exposing yourself to even MORE chemicals by drinking from plastic bottles….
The Dangers of Plastic
Drinking water from a plastic water bottle poses serious health risks to you and your family. Let's take a look at some of these dangers to give you a better idea of why bottled water is not the healthy choice you've been led to believe it is.
Plastic would obviously be an issue for most bottled waters but it also comes into play for home or commercially filtered waters, or even raw spring water in that you need a container to store your water before you consume it. Obviously the best container is glass because when you choose plastic you are potentially exposed to the following chemicals.
BPA – Bisphenol A or BPA is an estrogen-mimicking chemical that has been linked to a host of serious health problems including:
- Learning and behavioral problems
- Altered immune system function
- Early puberty in girls and fertility problems
- Decreased sperm count
- Prostate and breast cancer
- Diabetes and obesity
If you are pregnant or nursing, your child is also at risk. If you are feeding your baby or toddler from a plastic bottle, switch to glass to avoid BPA contamination.
Phthalates -- Phthalates are widely used in the United States to make plastics like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) more flexible.
Phthalates are endocrine-disrupting chemicals that have been linked to a wide range of developmental and reproductive effects, including:
- Reduced sperm counts
- Testicular atrophy or structural abnormality
- Liver cancer
Further, in experiments on rats, phthalates have demonstrably blocked the action of fetal androgens, which affects gender development in male offspring, leading to undescended testes at birth and testicular tumors later in life.
Studies have also found that boys whose mothers had high phthalate exposures while pregnant were much more likely to have certain demasculinized traits and produce less testosterone.
Yet another study found that pregnant women who are exposed to phthalates gave birth more than one week earlier than women who were not exposed to them.
Pharmacy in a Bottle -- As mentioned above, about 40 percent of bottled water is tap water. This means you are not only exposed to dangerous BPA from the bottle, you may also be exposed to a variety of water contaminants such as fluoride, chlorine, arsenic, aluminum, disinfection byproducts and prescription drugs.
Although you may have been told that disposing your unused prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) drugs in the garbage instead of down the toilet means this eliminates the threat of your water supply being contaminated, this is simply not true. Water that drains through landfills, known as leach rate, eventually ends up in rivers. Although not all states source drinking water from rivers, many do.
According to studies, human cells do not grow normally when exposed to even minute amounts of prescription or over-the-counter drugs.
Some drugs that were never meant to be combined are mixed together in the drinking water you consume every day. Millions of people have drug allergies. Are you one of them? If so, how do you know the unusual symptoms you've been exhibiting are not due to ingesting small doses of the drugs you're allergic to from your bottled water?
Ticking Time Bomb
Though drinking bottled water directly from a store shelf poses serious health risks, leaving this bottled water in your car or strapped to your bike and exposed to the hot sun will cause even more serious chemical exposure. Ultraviolet rays from the sun or high temperatures will accelerate leaching of the plastic chemicals mentioned above into the water.
Adding to this health threat is a toxic substance called dioxin, which is also released into bottled water when it is left in the sun. Dioxin has been strongly linked to the development of breast cancer.
Health-conscious people like to transport filtered water from home to ensure a safe supply on the go. If you're one of these individuals, using a glass or steel bottle instead will bypass the risks associated with carrying filtered water in plastic.
"Vitamin Water" – As Unhealthy as Soda
One of the biggest scams soda manufacturers have come up with is, "vitamin water". The marketers for this cleverly disguised "health drink" take advantage of your growing interest in health and try to make you believe it can measure up to the vitamins and minerals in food. It can't even come close.
In truth, vitamin water is one of the worst types of bottled water you can drink!
Most vitamin waters contain health-harming additives such as high fructose corn syrup, which is a primary cause of obesity and diabetes, and food dyes that can wreak havoc on your physical and emotional health.
Don't be fooled. Skip the vitamin water. If you eat a healthy diet and follow my comprehensive nutritional plan http://www.mercola.com/nutritionplan/index.htm , most of your vitamins will come from food. For more information about the health hazards of vitamin waters, please see this link.
Do Not Deliver
For years, you may have enjoyed the ease and convenience of having bottled water delivered straight to your door. The idea of being able to avoid the dangerous chemicals in tap water by having your very own water cooler full of fresh, mountain spring water to drink from may have seemed to good to be true.
Turns out, it was. Home water delivery is not an environmentally-friendly way to get the water you need.The plastic bottles they come in pose health risks that are less significant than the pint or quart water bottles as they have denser plastic and they typically are reused many times, unlike the smaller bottles.
Although some water home delivery companies will ship their water in glass, you still have no real idea where your water is coming from. Also, the load is that much heavier and requires that much more fuel to transport and heavy glass bottles can be difficult to manage and have been known to break and cut seriously injure or even kill people.
The Truth about Fluoride
Tap water, and bottled water that originates from tap water, is loaded with fluoride. Though you may have been lead to believe this substance to be vital to the dental health of you and your family, this is simply not the case. Unfortunately, the belief that fluoride prevents cavities is a common misconception. In fact, the exact opposite is true.
As this recent study done on children in India shows, fluoride is anything but a cavity fighter. Fluoride is a toxin that actually leads to an increased risk of cavities and can cause a wide range of health problems, including weakening your immune system and accelerating aging due to cellular damage.
One study, published in the September 2001 issue of International Journal of Pediatric Dentistry, found that South African children who drank water containing high levels of natural fluoride (3 ppm), had more tooth decay than children in other parts of South Africa who drank much lower concentrations (between 0.19 to 0.48 ppm). And fluoride-saturated American teenagers had twice the rate of cavities as the South African children drinking low levels of natural fluoride!
A new study in the Journal of the American Dental Association, published in October of last year, also found that, contrary to what most people have been told, fluoride is actually bad for teeth.The study found that fluoride intake during a child's first few years of life is significantly associated with fluorosis, and warned against using fluoridated water in infant formula.
In response, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated the information on their website, stating:
"Recent evidence suggests that mixing powdered or liquid infant formula concentrate with fluoridated water on a regular basis may increase the chance of a child developing ... enamel fluorosis." "In children younger than 8 years of age, combined fluoride exposure from all sources—water, food, toothpaste, mouth rinse, or other products—contributes to enamel fluorosis."
More importantly however, on January 7, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that they will take another look at the standards and guidelines for fluoride in drinking water due to the increase in dental fluorosis.
This is the first time in 50 years that the federal government has recommended changing the amount of fluoride added to public water supplies. They're now proposing the recommended amount of fluoride in drinking water be reduced to 0.7 milligrams per liter of water. The recommended range has been 0.7 to 1.2 mg/L, so for many communities this new level will equate to a fluoride reduction of nearly 50 percent! The EPA is also initiating a review of the maximum amount of fluoride allowed. Depending on their findings, the maximum amount of fluoride allowed may also be revised. This is at least a step in the right direction!
However, this is likely not the last you'll hear on this issue. According to a recent press release by The Fluoride Action Network, "Fluoridegate" is fast approaching as it's becoming clear that dental fluorosis is "just the tip of the iceberg." The press release states:
"A series of disclosures are surfacing about the actions of water fluoridation promoters that point to a likely tsunami of Fluoridegate investigations, hearings, and explosive courtroom entanglements. Tennessee state legislator Frank Niceley states, "There is a real Fluoridegate scandal here. Citizens haven't been told about harm from fluorides, and this needs to be investigated by the authorities and the media."
Washington D.C. toxic tort attorney Chris Nidel says, "I think when we look back we'll ask why Fluoridegate didn't surface earlier. There are serious concerns about possible conflict of interest and heavy editing of information being fed to the public about fluoride risks and impacts."
Your Optimal Water Choices
Your most convenient solution is to filter your own tap water. African women spend five hours per day, on average, seeking out water and carrying it back to their villages. If you're like most modern Americans, you have indoor plumbing in your home. So, why are you purchasing and transporting bottled water from your supermarket?
The most economical and environmentally sound choice you and your family can make is to purchase and install a water filter for your home. Alternatively, you can look around for sources of mountain spring water, which is about as close to ideal as you can get.
There's a great website called FindaSpring.com where you can find a natural spring in your area. This is also a great way to get back to nature and teach your children about health and the sources of clean water. The best part is that most of these spring water sources are free!
Your body is made up of 80 percent water and you can only live a few days without this precious, life-giving substance. Most of you are dehydrated and not even aware of your body's many cries for water. But the quality, and hence the source of your water is vitally important for maintaining optimal health. To learn even more about water, please visit my water index page for links to more articles on this important topic.