The deteriorating taste and quality of tap water and the fear of unknown contaminants have made bottled water a solution for many families. In fact, it is one of the fastest-growing “beverages” on the market, surpassing that of tea, wine, liquor, powdered drinks, and juice. Customers report that their primary reason for buying bottled water centers around taste, but other reasons are safety and concerns about chemicals in tap water.The question remains, is bottled water worth the difference in cost, at an average cost of 700 times more than plain tap water?
As far back as March 2000, popular radio commentator Paul Harvey reported on a congressional panel that accused the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of not properly regulating the bottled water industry. Strict rules govern both bottled and tap water industries. Public water utilities are governed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), while bottled water, however, isconsidered a food and is monitored by the FDA. A report from the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington found that microbiologic contaminants exceeding allowed levels were found innearly one third of the bottled water samples tested by the FDA. The FDA is responsible for setting standards for bottled water, making sure that it is tested periodically and to inspect bottlers’ test records as well as sanitary conditions. As Mr. Harvey reported, the panel contends that the FDA is not doing its job and also said that tap water may be safer to drink than bottled water! (This is a serious indictment against an industry which insofar as the consumers are concerned, perceive that they are purchasing safe, clean, quality water.)
Consider the following information regarding this ‘food’:
û Storage of bottled water, often for weeks or months at room temperature and higher, promotes bacterial growth in the water. Elevated levels of bacteria in water can cause health problems for infants, the elderly, and immunocompromised people.
û Benzene, a chemical known to cause cancer in humans, was detected in bottles of a major bottled water company at levels that exceeded by four times the EPA standards for tap water.
û Municipal water supplies are used as the source for approximately 25% of the bottled water sold in the United States.
û Two major soft drink manufacturers, entering the bottled water market, were found to be using municipal water sources while representing the water as mineral or mountain spring waters.
û The word ‘natural’ is allowed for bottled water if any natural chemical (mineral and trace elements) has not been altered as a result of a treatment process.
“Water suppliers have an obligation to produce safe, clean drinking water, whether it comes from a tap or a bottle,” says American Water Works Association executive Director Jack Hoffbuhr. “Unfortunately, the public remains uninformed about bottled water quality, including what – if any – treatment water bottlers undertake before selling their product.”
The bottom line: bottled water may not be the answer both for health and economic reasons. A family purchasing water at discount center prices could easily spend close to $600 in one year’s time for only 600 gallons of water. This would not include the multitudinous number of bottled water sales at convenience stores which can run close to $2.00 for a single 32 ounce bottle! Safe, clean drinking water, is available with the AquaRain, for less than 1/2 of a penny! Is bottled water an answer to our needs? For the wise and the prudent, a quality water filter system at home and then the morning fill of your own sports bottle makes much more sense.