Bottled water is convenient, but is it better than tap water? Would it be just as efficient to buy a filter for your water as to spend 2,000 times more than you need to on bottled water? This is an issue in our society today. Although it is thought that bottled water is safer than tap, there are two new reports showing that bottled-water is actually regulated less than tap water. The Food and Drug Administration has very little authority to regulate companies with bottled brands. This information was released to a U.S. Congressional report recently. Water utilities are required to provide a public report each year of their test results on the tap water. Bottled-water companies do not have to do this. In fact, it is hardly even checked. So, if you think about it, you are
spending money on something that may not be any better than what you can get for nearly free. This new research is supported by a second report from the Environmental Working Group. This nonprofit advocacy organization did numerous surveys on the labels and web sites of nearly 200 popular bottled-water brands. They found that less than two percent disclosed some important facts that can affect safety. These facts include: the water’s source, purification methods, and chemical pollutants in each bottle. Think about it, if the companies that preach to us that they are doing what is best for the people, they should have no trouble giving out that information. It is evident something is going on behind closed doors.
These bottling companies put things like deep, pristine pools of spring water; majestic alpine peaks; healthy, active people gulping down icy bottled water between biking in the park and a trip to the yoga studio on their labels. This is why people think that bottled water is so much better for you than tap water. In all actuality water is just water. Even with this information out, people are still buying an abundant amount of bottled water. It is estimated that bottled water sales are between $50 and $100 billion each year. If this doesn’t detour you away from bottled water, just stop and think about it. Bottled water is a dry well; it’s costly, wasteful and distracts from public health: the construction and maintenance of safe water systems.
Another study was done in 2003 concerning the chemicals and other contents in the plastic itself. The study was done by Dr. Paticia Hunt of Case Western University in Ohio. She questioned the use of polycarbonate plastics such as Lexan. These findings were published in the journal Current Biology. In 1998, Hunt found that the plastics contained bisphenol-A (BPA), a potent hormone disruptor. It is a chemical found in epoxy resin and polycarbonate plastics. BPA may impair reproductive organs and have effects on tumors, breast tissue development and prostate development by reducing sperm count. BPA can get into the water from the water bottles through exposure to heat and cleaning agents, but also through normal wear and tear. There was a study done in 2003 by the University of Missouri and they published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives confirming Dr. Hunts’ study conclusions. They also found that BPA leached into liquids at room temperature. This means just having your plastic water bottle sitting on your desk can be potentially harmful. It is starting to sound like tap water isn’t so bad after all.
Lastly, here are some facts about bottled water versus tap water. Tap water costs $0.0015/gal, whereas bottled water costs $10.00/gal. The price of bottled water is up to 10,000 times the cost of tap water. Every year, Americans consume 8.6 billion gallons of water; 53 billion gallons are consumed globally. That comes out to be about $61 billion dollars. Here’s the irony: 40% of bottled water is taken from municipal water sources (aka tap water). Another statistic for you: 22% of tested water bottle brands contained chemical contaminants at levels above strict state health limits. How’s that for healthy? Let’s compare tap and bottled water again. Tap water is tested for E.coli, it is required for a source to be given, and are required to produce quality reports; bottled water manufacturers do not test for E.coli, they are not required for the source of their water to be known, and they are not required to produce quality reports. Aside from the contents of the water, let’s look at the process of making the bottles, packing, shipping, etc. Each year 17 million barrels of oil are used in the production of water bottles. That is enough oil to fuel a million cars for a whole year. How ironic, it takes about three times the amount of water to produce the waters as it does to fill it. Of these water bottles only about 1in 5, or 20% of them are recycled. That adds up to 3 billion pounds of waste from plastic water bottles. Crazy, huh?
Next time you are about to grab a water bottle, stop and think. Is it worth it? Not only do they pose health risks, but they aren’t good for the environment. There is no quick easy way to dispose of them and not many cities have an option to recycle the bottles. What are some alternatives to bottled water? If you aren’t a fan of tap water because of the “taste” what are some other ways you can access water in a convenient manner without grabbing a plastic water bottle? What other harmful chemicals can potentially be in your water that you need to be aware of? Now it’s you’re call, what are you going to do?