Bottled Water vs Tap Water

Bottled water is everywhere! Fancy names from fancy places convincing us it’s the purest form of water around.  It’s definitely convenient and some are tastier than plain water.

But there is a flip side.  It’s in a BPA bottle which has a huge impact on our environment, taking almost 1000 years to decompose and which might be leaching hormones into our bodies.

Here’s the splash on the whole thing though. “But no one should think that bottled water is better regulated, better protected or safer than tap,” says Eric Goldstein, co-director of the urban program at the natural Resources Defense Council.  A nonprofit devoted to protecting health and the environment.

Okay, some does come from springs & other sources, but 25% comes from a municipal supply.  Bottlers are not required to name the water source. It’s glorified tap water even if it is treated.  And then they charge huge prices for it with misleading and deceptive labels.

Three companies have begun stating where their water comes from; either a public or local source, private or deep wells.   There have been companies labeling their water “spring” or “pure glacier water” which came from public water systems in Alaska and one was a well located near a hazardous waste site.

Between 1990 and 2007 products from bottlers were contaminated.  Among the reasons were mold, benzene, coliform, microbes, and crickets.

The EPA regulates tap water and the FDA oversees bottled. But the FDA oversight does not apply to water packaged and sold in the same state.  The FDA considers bottled water a low-risk product and plants are not inspected yearly. To be fair, the NSF International conducts yearly unannounced inspections while another International Bottled Water Association also performs annual unannounced tests to ensure FDA standards. Bottlers usually are members of one or the other.

Then you have the bottle itself made from polyethylene terephthalate PET or PETE located on the bottles bottom.  They are usually safe, but if stored in the heat they may leach chemicals into the water. Leaving a bottle of water in your car changes the chemical equilibrium of the plastic which goes into the water.  Even putting tap water into a plastic bottle can do the same.  Use a stainless steel water container instead. Other chemicals used to make plastic bottles are Antimony and Bisphenol A (BPA) which have been shown to either cause physical ailments or neurological, behavioral and other reproductive and immune issues. This includes the water bottle/cooler in the office.  It is also BPA and when was the last time you saw someone clean the cooler?  The FDA is monitoring the data.

And last but not the least, the toll on our environment.  The energy used each year to make the bottled water in the US is equivalent to 17 million barrels of oil.  In 2003, the California Department of Conservation estimated 3 million bottles were trashed in the state every day. One bottle takes 3 minutes to drink and 1000 years to biodegrade.

Tap water.  If your water comes from a public source you can get a water-quality report each year and at any time from your water utility.  If you have well water, get it tested every year.  Still concerned have your water tested.  Some areas have naturally occurring arsenic in the environment. When you must use water bottles, look for the NSF certification or belonging to IBWA.

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