The multi-billion dollar industry that we all contribute to, and then question, “Why did I just pay for water, when it is free from my tap?”
We justify our small impulse purchase because we think the water we buy is of superior quality compared to our tap water. Is it truly?
Just because a bottle has a fancy label might not mean that it comes from a pure source.
Marketing is heavy in the bottled water industry. Print and television ads featuring mountain springs, snow covered mountains and rain forest streams all elude to a bottle filled with pure, blissful H2O. Are the images they display accurate?
The NRDC doesn’t think so. In an extensive report, they find that bottled water is not necessarily better regulated, purer or safer than most tap water.
Their study commissioned independent lab testing of more than 1,000 bottles of 103 types of bottled water brands from diverse regions. The research was also directed towards the study of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) rules and regulations and the rules of piped tap water by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Here is what they found:
How pure is bottled water?
- One third of the bottled water they tested contained significant contamination (levels exceeding those allowed under a standard guideline).
- 22% were commonly found to contain arsenic or cancer causing man-made organic compounds.
- 17% contained more bacteria than allowed under purity guidelines.
- One fifth of the waters contained industrial chemicals used in manufacturing plastics in which there is no regulation for bottled water, but there is for tap.
- Many tap water sources are in violation of the EPA’s standards, making tap water risky. The bottled water standards are less strict resulting in bottled water being no less risky than tap water.
Gaps in regulations
FDA rules and regulations completely exempt 60-70 percent of US bottled water because the FDA’s rules to do not apply to water packaged and sold within the same state. State regulations have to pick up where this leaves off, and they do not have resources dedicated to this task.
When bottled water is covered by the FDA’s rules, the standards are weaker than tap water rules with major differences that include:
- No prohibition of E. coli or fecal bacteria
- Big city tap water must be tested for coliform bacteria more than 100 times a month, bottled water must test just once a week.
- The FDA exempts bottled water from regulation on cancer causing chemicals (such as those leached from plastic). Municipal water adheres to these regulations.
It appears that the bottled water industry, a heavily funded and highly profitable business, were able to lobby against many of the rules and regulations that apply to municipal tap water.
The bottled water industry obviously wants to keep margins high, so they will try to cut corners in production and regulation. If consumers knew that the trendy plastic bottles were filled with potentially hazardous contaminants, we wouldn’t continue to make the same impulse purchases when we are thirsty.
What is the solution?
We’ve found out that bottled water isn’t any safer than tap water. To get the safest form of water, we recommend using in-home purification devices that remove 100% of contaminants using multi-stage filtration and purification methods. Instead of buying a bottle when you are out, use a glass or metal reusable water container and take your pure water with you.
Stay tuned for Part Two, where we discuss how in-home solutions are far more cost effective than purchasing bottled water.