Did you know that sales of bottled
water in the USA have soared over the last 2 years, largely as a result of a public
of the purity driven advertisements and packaging labels featuring
pristine glaciers and crystal-clear mountain springs.
But did you know that bottled water sold in the USA is not necessarily
cleaner than your average tap water, according to a 4 year scientific
study recently made public by Natural
Resources Defence Council (NRDC).
study included testing 1,000 + bottles of 103 brands of bottled water. Most of
the tested waters were found to be of a high quality, but some brands were contaminated.
They found 1/3 of the waters tested contained levels of contamination . These
included synthetic organic chemicals, bacteria, and arsenic in at least one sample
that exceeded allowable limits under either
state or bottled water industry
standards or guidelines.
One of NRDC main findings
is that bottled water regulations are inadequate to assure consumers of either
purity or safety,
although both the federal government and the states have
bottled water safety programs. At the national level, the
and Drug Administration is responsible for bottled water safety, but the
FDA's rules completely exempt waters that are packaged and sold within the same
state, which account for between 60 and 70 percent of all bottled water sold in
the United States
(roughly 1 out of 5 states don't regulate these waters either).
The FDA also exempts carbonated water and seltzer, and fewer
than half of
the states require carbonated waters to meet their own bottled water standards.
Even when bottled waters are covered by the FDA's
rules, they are subject to less rigorous testing and purity standards than
which apply to city tap water (see chart below). For example, bottled water is
required to be tested less frequently than
city tap water for bacteria and
chemical contaminants. In addition, bottled water rules allow for some contamination
by E. coli
or faecal coliform (which indicate possible contamination with faecal
matter), contrary to tap water rules, which prohibit any
with these bacteria. Similarly, there are no requirements for bottled water to
be disinfected or tested
for parasites such as cryptosporidium or giardia,
unlike the rules for big city tap water systems that use surface water sources.
This leaves open the possibility that some bottled water may present a health
threat to people with weakened immune systems, such as the frail elderly, some
infants, transplant or cancer patients, or people with HIV/AIDS.
public concern about tap water quality is at least partly responsible for the
growth in bottled water sales, which have
tripled in the past 10 years. This
bonanza is also fuelled by marketing designed to convince the public of bottled
and safety, marketing so successful that people spend from
240 to over 10,000 times more per gallon for bottled water than they typically
do for tap water.
In fact, about ¼ of bottled
water is actually bottled tap water, according to government and industry estimates
go as high as 40 percent). And FDA rules allow companies to call their
product "spring water" even though it may be brought to the
surface using a pumped well, and it may be treated with chemicals. But
the actual source of water is not always made clear --
some bottled water marketing is misleading, implying the water comes from
pristine sources when it does not. In 1995, the FDA issued labelling rules
to prevent misleading claims, but while the rules do prohibit some of
the most deceptive labelling practices, they have not eliminated the problem.
However, while Americans
who choose to buy bottled water deserve the assurance that it is safe to consume,
solution to our drinking water problems is to ensure that safe,
clean, good-tasting drinking water comes from our taps!!!!!!!