Surprisingly when it comes to the beverage of choice it appears that
more Americans still drink water over milk, coffee or beer. This water,
however, is bottled. More than half of all Americans drink bottled
water equating to an estimated eight billion gallons of bottled drinking
water. Fueled by ads picturing unspoiled glaciers, crystal-clear water
springs surrounded by green forests, and mountain vistas hosting
magnificent waterfalls, consumers are left with mouthwatering images of
pure bottled water. But do we know the real source of that bottled drinking water? Are the images of purity wholly accurate?
Well, not exactly. It is important that people do not assume that
just because water is bottled, it doesn�t necessarily mean it is cleaner
or safer than tap water. Get the facts before you purchase that case
of water, because you should know whether your water came from a
mountain spring or a municipal pipe.
Do you know your types of bottled drinking water?
1. Some bottled drinking water is tap water.
In 2004, Coca-Cola introduced Dasani bottled water to Great Britain.
Shortly thereafter, British newspapers discovered that Dasani was
simply processed tap water from London public supply. Subsequently,
Dasani water was found to be contaminated with bromate, a cancer-causing
chemical. Still today, Europe remains Dasani-free. In America, most
people are probably unaware that Dasani is simply bottled tap water �
the very same water that comes from your kitchen faucet. Apparently, it
does pass through an additional filtering system and is sprinkled with
minerals, but in the end, it is still tap water.
2. Some bottled drinking water is mineral water.
FDA guidelines strictly regulate what can be considered mineral
water. Mineral water does come from underground, but it contains at
least 250 parts per million of dissolved solids such as minerals and
trace elements. No minerals can be added to this water � they must
exist naturally and they must be safe. Some sources of mineral water
have been known to contain traces of lead. Mineral waters also have a
stronger taste, which some people actually prefer.
3. Some bottled water is spring water.
FDA guidelines also strictly define spring water as water that flows
naturally to the surface from underground. The water cannot be labeled
as �spring water� if it is not. If it is labeled �spring water� that
doesn�t necessarily mean that it is pure. Some FDA rules allow
manufacturers to label their bottled drinking water
as �spring water� even if it is brought to the surface via a pumped
well. This water is, of course, treated with chemicals, but it is still
not the untouched spring water from natural sources depicted in ads or
4. Some bottled drinking water contains additives.
Even though the FDA defines bottled drinking water as �water that is
intended for human consumption and sealed in bottles or other
containers, with no added ingredients � except a safe and suitable
antimicrobial agent�, many bottles of water do contain additives (and
they are not labeled as such). The FDA does allow bottlers to add
fluoride within limits, but many bottles do not tell you it�s been
added. Some bottled water also contains added minerals, vitamins and
electrolytes, but this is not indicated on the label. Most alarming,
some bottlers add disinfectants and make no mention of it on labels.
Labels are often missing important details!
5. Some bottled drinking water can be unsafe.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates tap water and
provides very strict guidelines regarding safety for consumption. The
FDA regulates bottled water (because it is classified as a food) and
many of their guidelines are not as strict � which means that some water
acceptable to the FDA may not be acceptable for use as ordinary
bathroom tap water according to the EPA. One example � a test for
Cryptosporidium parasites are required by the EPA but not even
recommended by the FDA.
In summary, if you buy bottled water because you think it is
healthier, test after test has shown no evidence of that. Drinking pure
water is important but you�re better off purchasing a water filtration system for your home. In the end, it will save you money and offer peace of mind knowing that your water is truly contaminant free.