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Bottled Water Quality May Be No Better or Even Worse than Public Tap Water

water_fallAn 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

The full report is freely available online here, and PDF file of the study can be download from this website.  A summary of their recommendations is here.

CFisher

Reference:

*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.

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One Response to Bottled Water Quality May Be No Better or Even Worse than Public Tap Water

  1. avatar
    CFisher July 25, 2009 at 7:18 AM #

    Posted on behalf of EWG:

    Help bottled water research, win a prize:

    Ever look at a bottle of water and wonder, “Where does the water come from? Is it purified? Did the FDA make sure it’s safe and clean?”

    Join EWG’s Bottled Water Label Scavenger Hunt and get your questions answered.

    Here’s how to get involved (and win EWG prizes!):

    1) The next time you buy a bottle of water (even we EWG’ers sometimes forget our reusable bottle) choose a non-sparkling, unflavored water bottled in glass or clear plastic.

    2) Carefully remove the entire label from the bottle. We need all the information from the label, so if necessary, cut the plastic around the label to get it all off.

    3) Write down:

    * the name and location of the store where you purchased the water
    * the date you purchased the water
    * your name, email and mailing address

    4) Mail your labels and other information to:

    Environmental Working Group
    Attn: Nneka Leiba
    1436 U St. NW, Suite 100
    Washington, DC 20009

    Whoever sends the most labels (duplicates not counting) by June 15 will win a stainless steel water bottle with the EWG logo and a jumbo-sized, reusable grocery tote printed with EWG’s pollution solutions tips. Plus, everyone who participates will get a Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides magnet!

    Thank you in advance for helping us with our research to make sure bottled water companies are honest with you about the water you buy.

    Sincerely,

    EWG Bottled Water Research Team

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