An in-depth investigation by the Environment Working Group* (EWP) revealed that 10 different brands of bottle water contained some contaminants that were well above legal limits established for public tap water. The researchers found a total of 38 contaminants, some cancer causing, across 10 brands purchased from different regions in the United States. This equated to an average of 8 contaminants per brand. In some cases, the bottled water product was simply tap water rebranded at, of course, significantly higher prices. Check the end of this story on how to obtain a free copy of this study.
The Behavioral Medicine Report writers are strong advocates of healthy lifestyles. Casual observation suggests that many persons drink bottle water not only for convenience, but also presumably to improve their health by ingesting products presumed to be “safer.” This report seriously calls the latter motivation into question.
Back to the study at hand. The researchers discovered numerous and varying contaminants in bottled water that included a cancer-causing chemical called bromodichloromethane (EWP intends to file a law suit with the manufacturer over this particular finding), disinfection byproducts called trihalomethanes, nitrate and ammonia fertilizer, bacterial contamination (nearly exceeded the legal limit for tap water), arsenic, radioactive chemicals, fluoride, caffeine, and acetaminophen. This is a partial list. Important to note is that some of these chemicals were within the legal limits, but the researchers pointed out that legal does not necessarily translate to safe.
The Environment Working Group provided several recommendations including:
- Drink filtered tap water
- Consider installation of a whole-house carbon filter system that strips out chemicals from all water sources (showers, faucets, etc.). Estimated cost: 25 cents per person in a household per day.
- Forgo the plastic bottles and use stainless steel ones
- urge policymakers to improve and adequately fund source water protection programs
*Naidenko, O., Sharp, R., & Houlihan, J. (October, 2008). Bottled Water Quality Investigation: 10 Major Brands, 38 Pollutants. Environmental Working Group. Retrieved February 8, 2009, from http://www.ewg.org/book/export/html/27010.