7 Things You Should Know About Bottled Water

Water is essential to the survival of every life form. People who work in hot climates need to drink up to 16 litres of water daily to control body temperature and stay hydrated.

But, did you know that even though the recommended average is 2-3 litres per day, 95% of Americans drink only 1 litre of water?

Considering the importance of water and our sole reliance on its benefits, it is not surprising to find that we like it clean, pure, and tasty. This is the reason a lot of people spend so much money buying filters to purify water.

Conventional water filters are too large to bring out with you as you go about your daily activities so you can only use them at home; this presents the question “what do you when you’re thirsty and away from home?” The average American would prefer to buy a bottle of water at the grocery store or just drink from water fountains rather than carrying a bottle of water everywhere.

Bottled water use keeps increasing in the USA. According to a report by Beverage Marketing Corporation, the USA utilizes more bottled water than any country except China. Beverage companies have earned fortunes by merely selling bottled water on the assertion that it’s “pure,” from “unspoiled, natural sources,” and hence is safer than tap water. Campaigns for bottled water have been so successful in making people wary of tap water that sales have increased over 700 percent between 1997 and 2005. The environmental degradation, landfill waste, and human rights abuses associated with bottled water are on the rise as well.

Research, however, has shown that bottled water is no safer than tap water.(1) Drinking water in the US can even be considered dangerous due to local groundwater contamination, old infrastructure like pipes that leach heavy metals or chemicals into drinking water, or from lack of disinfection that allows bacteria and viruses to proliferate. In fact, drinking water in the USA is thought to cause more than a million cases of stomach sickness every year.(2) This level of contamination is 559 times higher than the EPA acceptable standard for drinking water.

These reports of drinking tainted water might have some people running to the water aisle of the nearest grocery store, something that should alarm environmentalists. At Santevia we always suggest using a point of use filter, like an alkaline water pitcher at home, and an on-the-go filter, like the Power Stick when you are out. It is much better for the environment because it doesn’t contribute to plastic waste, is less expensive than buying bottled water, and will keep you hydrated throughout the day.

1.Bottled Water has Unique Guidelines

The bottled water industry is worth more than $170 billion dollars and North Americans are some of its most enthusiastic consumers purchasing more than both milk and beer in the US.

Bottled water is not subject to milk and beer guidelines because it is classified as a food and falls under the Food and Drugs Act.

Aside from arsenic, coliform, and lead, the Food act does not place limits on specific contaminants but simply says that food products are not allowed to contain "poisonous or harmful substances" and must be prepared in hygienic conditions.

2. Water Quality Monitoring In the Industry Is Voluntary

A study in 2009 by the Polaris Institute, an Ottawa-based non-profit environmental advocacy group, found that in the water bottling industry, monitoring of water quality is considered "essentially voluntary and internally regulated."

Tap water is subject to more thorough water quality guidelines than bottled water.

Producers of bottled water claim they carry out a degree of testing that is comparable to that done in municipalities, but the results are not made public — even if some companies do post sample water quality analysis online.

Efforts have been made to initiate more thorough bottled water guideline. But it has proved futile, leaving the industry to regulate itself.

3.Bottle Water Labels give Limited Information

Bottle water labels on spring and mineral water do not indicate the water source even when it is obvious that some are sourced from town water supplies.

Bottled water has made its way into every part of the modern society and the industry still growing rapidly is estimated to be worth more than $170 billion.

In the U.S., Nestlé's Poland Spring water, was made subject of a class-action lawsuit that suspected that the company was mislabeling its water as "naturally purified" spring water from "pristine and protected sources... deep in the woods of Maine," when in reality the water was sourced from groundwater obtained from man-made wells some of which were at risk of pollution.

They never gave in; instead, the suit was settled out of court in 2003. The company agreed to pay 10 million US dollars in charitable donations, customer discounts and agreed to step up water-quality monitoring.

4. There are clear health risks

Diseases associated with bottled water are rare; however, like tap water, bottled water can be contaminated. The Polaris Institute discovered that 29 out of 49 bottled water products have been recalled; this was between 2000 and 2009 as a result of contamination (by contaminants such as bacteria, arsenic, mould and "extraneous material" like glass).

Some have raised the point that filtered water that is de-mineralized might deprive those who drink it of the benefits of essential minerals like magnesium and calcium.

There have also been concerns over the potential leaching of antimony trioxide, a suspected carcinogen used in the manufacturing of the polyethylene terephthalate plastic (known as PET or PETE) used in water bottles, but studies show that the levels found are a health risk.

5.Bottled Water & Drugs

Bottled water vendors claim their product tastes better than tap water.

To enable them to flaunt improved taste, manufacturers use disinfection and additional treatment processes to reduce potential contaminants which don’t leave the same odour and taste as the cheaper chlorine disinfection used by many municipal water treatment systems.

Coca-Cola willingly withdrew up to 500,000 bottles of Dasani water in the U.K. after it found that the levels of bromate surpassed legal limits.

Treatment methods including UV disinfection, carbon filtration, ozonation, and reverse osmosis used to disinfect water also softens the water by removing naturally occurring minerals like magnesium and calcium in a bid to reduce heavy metals. The best water filters will remove contaminants from water, then add healthy minerals, like calcium and magnesium, back into the water.

6. Cost

Bottled water prices can range from eight cents per 500 ml bottle to $2.50 for high-end brands. Alternatively, the economics of filtering tap water with a point-of-use filter like a water pitcher or Santevia Countertop produce very high-quality water and cost just pennies a glass.

7. Environmental impact

Even though companies have tried to reuse and recycle plastic, significant waste is being generated and energy is expended in transporting and remanufacturing this waste.

The CBWA says “plastic bottles account for only one-fifth of one percent of the landfill, but once they’re there, they can take hundreds of years to decompose and may not decompose at all given that most landfills don't have enough heat, light, and oxygen to break down much of anything outside of organic matter”.

Reuse of these bottles can increase the risk of contamination leading to severe illness. The Pacific Institute, responsible for research on water use and conservation, has anticipated that bottled water is up to 2,000 times more energy-intensive than tap water. In 2006 alone, putting water in bottles for U.S. consumption expended the energy equivalent of 17 million barrels of oil and produced 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide.

CONCLUSION

Bottled water is often a bad purchase for your wallet and the environment. There are times when there isn’t access to potable water and so bottled water is the only option but there are many better solutions than purchasing bottled water on a daily basis. Often, bottled water is the same water you can expect from a tap, but is packaged in plastic that may leach harmful contaminants, contributes to plastic waste, and is transported across the country on gas-powered trucks. Save yourself money, and the environment from excessive plastic waste by filtering tap water to remove chlorine and add back healthy minerals with a Santevia Alkaline Pitcher at home and a Power Stick on-the-go filter while away from home.

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