Bottled water is the fastest growing segment of the beverage industry with annual sales exceeding $11 billion. Bottled water companies have used slick marketing to convince the public that their water is cleaner and healthier to drink. Unfortunately, bottled water is not only hazardous to our health, but it is also equally disastrous to the environment.
The EPA regulates municipal water to ensure that water borne illness will not occur and contaminates stay down. Chlorine and disinfectant byproducts (DBP`s) are added to waterways to disinfect the water and kill off pathogenic bacteria. This has successfully reduced water borne infection.Unfortunately, chlorine and DBP`s are highly toxic for human consumption as well. Additional problems with tap water include industrial waste, nitrates, pharmaceuticals, fluoride and arsenic.
The EPA regulations have been successful in keeping down water borne illness. However, their standards for contaminants in tap water are too high making tap water far too toxic for regular consumption. Basic water filtration does a poor job of removing these contaminants.
The EPA has no regulating standards that are applied to bottled water facilities. Studies reveal that 40% of bottled water is actually regular tap water with possibly no additional filtering treatment.
There are also no laws enacted to keep bottled water facilities away from industrial plants or waste dumps. A recent Environmental Working Group test found 38 contaminants in 10 brands of bottled water. Findings included caffeine, toxic bacteria, carcinogenic DBP`s, nitrates, arsenic, various industrial chemicals, and pharmaceutical agents.
The majority of bottled water on the market is no different than basic tap water. It does, however, cost 50-100 times more per gallon than basic tap. Even worse, if the water is bottled in plastic it leaches xenoestrogenic chemicals into the water. These chemicals disrupt the hormonal balance that should be present in the body. An example is bisphenol A (BPA), which is linked to neurodevelopmental problems in children. BPA can stimulate premature puberty and even lead to breast development in males. BPA has also been linked to breast, uterine, ovarian, and prostate cancers.
Plastic bottles contain numbers on the bottom that reveal the source of the plastic. All plastics are toxic because they contain phthalates which are potent xenoestrogenic chemicals. Even BPA free plastics contain phthalates so they are not completely safe. They are merely made with one less toxic chemical.
Certain bottles leach less chemicals than others. Check the recycling symbol on your bottle. If it is a #2 HDPE (high density polyethylene), or a #4 LDPE (low density polyethylene), or a #5 PP (polypropylene), the bottle is less toxic. The hard, durable plastic bottles are made with polycarbonate plastics that are identified by the #7 recycling symbol. These most often contain BPA and other toxic xenoestrogens.
Plastic is also highly toxic to the environment. The US Container Recycling Institute estimates that 67 million plastic water bottles are discarded every day. That is enough plastic water bottles to wrap around the planet 149 times each year.
Plastic bottles have become the number one environmental pollutant. They make up a sizeable portion of the enormous plastic garbage patch that is currently floating around in the Pacific Ocean. This enormous plastic `reef` is currently more than twice the size of Texas and growing rapidly. It is located just a few hundred miles off the California coast.
The Sierra Club claims that just in the US alone, we use over 1.5 million barrels of oil to produce all the water bottles we throw away each year. These plastics infiltrate the environment with toxic compounds such as nickel, ethylbenzene, benzene, and ethylene oxide.
by Dr. David Jockers
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