Monday, January 23, 2012

Are You Drinking Bottled Water?

Do you know someone who stores bottled water in the car, for refreshment on the go? You might want to warn them that PET, the plastic used for most water bottles, will leach endocrine-disrupting phthalates into the water – and the warmer the environment, the more chemicals end up in the bottled water.1 Despite their track record of being linked to cancer, birth defects and developmental problems in humans, the bottled water industry successfully lobbied against regulation of phthlates in bottled water2, so these bottles are considered “safe” and “food grade.”

Is Bottled Water Safe?

It’s not just the bottle that can do us harm. In a test done by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NDRC), 22% of bottled water brands tested contained chemical contaminants such as chloroform, arsenic, nitrate, trihalomethanes, aluminum, acetone and more, at levels beyond state health limits. Many brands also had levels of bacterial contamination ranging from 5 to a staggering 51,000 colony-forming units per milliliter! Unfortunately, the FDA has not set enforceable guidelines for levels of bacterial contamination in bottled water3.

Bottled Water and the Environment

Add to this the environmental load caused by bottled water, and it becomes clear that the convenience just isn’t worth the price. Consider this: a truckload of bottled water is so heavy that the truck can’t be filled completely! This means that there are trucks crossing the US, burning fossil fuels and contributing to air pollution, only to haul partial loads of a product that can be less expensive and better quality when filtered at home. While recycling of PET bottles is on the upswing, still more than 70% of water bottles end up in a landfill. And did you know that it takes about 12x more fresh water than the average water bottle holds, just to make the water bottle itself?

Bottled Water vs. Tap Water

Unfiltered tap water isn’t any better – it can contain pesticides, VOCs, lead, fluoride, and many more harmful contaminants. There are more than 84,000 chemicals registered for use in the United States today, and we have no way of knowing how many of these might be in our water supply. Testing for all of these possible contaminants isn’t feasible, as the cost of testing would far outweigh the cost of treatment itself.

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