Is Bottled Water Any Better for You?
The companies that sell bottled water spend a lot of money on advertising and labels proclaiming that their bottled water is pure and of the finest quality. Considering that $15 billion is spent on bottled water in the U.S. alone, this advertising must be very effective indeed. But is it any better than tap water for taste and purity? The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) issued a report in 1999 that stated that around 40% of the bottled water sold in this country comes from the same municipal water systems that provide the tap water for our homes.
What�s more, unless the bottled water is transported across state lines, there are no federal regulations that hold the producers responsible for the purity. In fact, anywhere from 60% to 70% of the bottled water sold in this country is exempt from any regulations because it is produced and consumed in the same state. Considering how much we spend each year on bottled water, which is absurdly expensive compared to what it costs us to get water from a faucet, this should amaze and alarm us in equal measure.
Here are some more findings from the NRDC report:
- All municipal water systems must test regularly for harmful pathogens like Cryptosporidium and Giardia, but bottled water is exempt from these testing requirements.
- Each year, municipal water systems are required by law to issue a report on what their drinking water contains. Lobbyists from the beverage industry successfully killed a bill that would have required bottled water producers to do the same.
- Municipal water systems are required by law to filter and disinfect drinking water. As of 2007, there are no federal regulations outlining the filtering and disinfecting of bottled water that is produced and sold in the same state.
- Municipal water systems can have no fecal coli form bacteria present in the water that they produce. The Food and Drug Administration laws for bottled water include no such provision.
- The Environmental Protection Agency requires municipal water systems to test for over a dozen different chemical contaminants. Bottled water producers� lobbyists defeated legislation that would have held bottled water to the same standards.
Each of us likes to think that we�re discriminating consumers. We read labels and conduct our own research about purchases large and small. We subscribe to magazines or surf the Web looking for information about which cars get the best mileage or which types of lettuce provide the most nutritional value. But water is such a fundamental need for each of us that we give little consideration to the hype on bottled water labels that state that their water is the purest, the best tasting, and the most refreshing.
Is bottled water any better for you? That decision is yours, but given the handful of facts outlined in this article, let the buyer beware.