Saturday, February 27, 2010

Let's Talk Water...

It is my opinion that bottled water is a scam. Here me out...

If, like us, you are on well water, chances are that your water is as clean, if not cleaner than bottled water. If you have a contaminated well, that is a whole 'nother issue. I recommend having your water tested periodically.

If you are on public water, it is the law that they regularly test their water and make the results of those tests available to the public. You can look up the results of your local water utility here.
Although it is true that your local tap water may not be the safest, bottled water is not as well regulated and studies have shown that it is not even particularly pure. A four-year study of bottled water in the U.S. conducted by NRDC found that one-fifth of the 103 water products tested contained synthetic organic chemicals such as the neurotoxin xylene and the possible carcinogen and neurotoxin styrene.

Bottled water that is labeled "purified water" is taken from lakes, rivers, or underground springs and treated, all of which makes it almost identical to tap water.

Other brands of bottled water is just tap water in disguise. In a quote from Jim Shepherd, Dasani's group director of research and development, he says that "Coca-Cola tested Dasani in hundreds of focus groups until it hit on a markedly crisp quality, achieved by adding magnesium sulfate, potassium chloride and sodium chloride to purified municipal water." Which is a fancy way of saying that they simply add salt to tap water in order to make it taste better.

Not only is it more expensive per gallon than gasoline (if that's not a kick in the gut, I don't know what is!), bottled water incurs a huge carbon footprint from its transportation. Meaning that it takes energy, gas, etc. to bottle and transport the bottles. 1.5 million barrels of oil, in the US alone, are used to make water bottles. What's worse (or maybe not, they are both pretty bad) 86% of these bottles are landfilled or incinerated.

And finally, if all of this has not convinced you, let me leave you with one plea. Please do not re-use your plastic water bottles! It is a noble gesture, I know, it will save you money, it will save the bottles from piling up in the landfills. However, this is a dangerous thing to do! The most common plastic used to make water bottles is #1 polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE). If reused, they can leach chemicals such as DEHA, a known carcinogen, and benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP), a potential hormone disrupter. According to the January 2006 Journal of Environmental Monitoring, some PET bottled-water containers were found to leach antimony, an elemental metal that is an eye, skin, and lung irritant at high doses. Also, because the plastic is porous you'll likely get a swig of harmful bacteria with each gulp if you reuse #1 plastic bottles.

I would recommend investing in one of the re-usable water bottles on the market. My family uses Kleen Kanteen and we love them. Others report success with the Sigg Bottles.

1 comment:

Priscilla Briones said...

No authoritative or regulatory body anywhere in the world considers styrene to be a known cause of human cancer. Moreover, a study conducted by a "blue ribbon" panel of epidemiologists and published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (November 2009) reports: "The evidence of human carcinogenicity of styrene is inconsistent and weak. Moreover, styrene occurs naturally in many foodstuffs, including cinnamon, beef, coffee and strawberries.

Priscilla Briones for the Styrene Information and Research Center (SIRC), Arlington, Virginia. SIRC ( is a trade association that represents interests of the North American styrene industry with its mission being the collection, development, analysis and communication of pertinent information on styrene.