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Before, drinking water was just a necessity but nowadays most Americans drink water for its quality and fitness. They consume more water bought in a plastic bottle than taken from the tap. For Americans, they spent $1 billion a year on bottled water when they can just drink for free from their tap. To assume that buying bottled water would be worth it, however, you may think twice after reading this article.
Majority in the US, tap and bottled water are virtually similar in terms of their health and nutritional quality. But publicly-sourced tap may actually be safer because it is more tested than the bottled water.
People are not to blame to be cynical and turn to bottled water. The 1993, Milwaukee Cryptosporidium outbreak occurred infecting city residents. Bottled water companies came to rescue and promised a purer and healthier water than tap water. There can never be truer words when is justified by proof and evidence.
It seems that there have been misconceptions about the quality of bottled water. Bottled water may just be the same as the tap. Coca-cola bottled water advertised their product as “pure, still water.” But when investigated, it was discovered that their bottles were just filled with tap water.
To supplement this, Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) conducted a four-year study in 1999. The results showed an estimated 25% or more of bottled water was really just the tap. In some cases, some brands get their water from spring water or plainly just from a municipal water supply.
A blind taste survey was done by students from Boston University. They discovered that one-third of the taste-testers would definitely tell it’s tap water and another one third couldn’t tell the differences whether it was bottled or tap.
Another study conducted by Showtime television found that 75% of tested New York city residents favor tap water over bottled water during a blind taste test.
It is important to note that is subjective yet the studies mentioned above practically beat bottled water by the tap water. Bottled water is no purer than tap water and it may not even taste better.
Bottled and tap water are tested and monitored by two different water authorities. Since bottled water is considered as “food”, it is under the federal regulations and thus under the authority of Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Tap water, on the other hand, is under the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) whose standards are more strict and consistent.
FDA standard and monitoring has no absolute directives in bottled water brands. Most states have bottled water safety programs but the regulations don’t adequately assure consumers of either purity and safety. The EPA authorized the local water treatment to provide its residents with a detailed account of tap water source and the results of the testing which also includes contamination level violations.
Municipal water systems also test for harmful microbiological content in the water many times a day but bottled water companies do for only thrice a week. In terms of testing policies, bottled and tap don’t have the same standards. There are policies in tap water but not found in bottled water. Even under the more lax standards of the FDA, bottled water companies do not always comply with standardized contaminant levels.
It is an undeniable truth that waste management has become one of the major problems in the world. Landfills burgeon in size while recycling rates barely grow. The skyrocketing plastic pollution is only complicating by all the more contribution of plastic consumers.
World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) reported that in 2001, approximately 1.5 billion tons of plastic are expanded in the bottling of 89 billion liters of water each year. Besides the varying number of plastic bottles produced each year, limited fossil fuels are continually depleted due to the energy required to make plastic bottles and the transportation to the market. Because of this bottled water companies, a significant damage to the environment has been it incurred.
The authors of the WWF report recommended the reusing and rewashing of water bottles to minimize stacking them in the dump. However, this might compromise the quality of the water due to the phthalates – a property of the plastic bottle that becomes released into the water as the plastic bottle gets older. They also included a recommendation for the water bottle companies to use local bottling facilities so that there would be a lesser fuel expense during transportation.
Unfortunately, local bottling only compromises the water quality due to the reduced health standards for in-stake bottled water production and consumption. It seems that there are more ways of improving the problems than reducing it.
Then: The water quality has been the concern of Americans ever since the 1970s that lead them to consume bottled water instead. The sales increases from $276 million in 1976 to $1 billion in 1985, according to the International Water Association.
There were issues in regards to the bottled water quality such as the doctoring of water samples with chlorine in bottled water plants so that results would show no bacterial growth when monitored for water quality. Another issue was the addition of levels of inorganic chemicals that exceeded water standards together with the presence of other organic chemicals such as phenols, benzene, and chloroform.
However, these may be allegation due to political motives. Many conducted scientific studies that showed “they were not factual nor can they be substantiated.” Nevertheless, one thing was for sure. Drinking bottled water before already costs higher than tap water. Bottled water would cost $.89 to $6 per gallon of bottled water compared to $.70 per gallon of tap water. Bottled water cost is 1,000x higher than tap water cost.
Now: In the year 2003, Americans spent $7 billion on bottled water at an average cost of more than $1 per bottle. Nowadays, bottled water comes at a higher price. Globally, people spend around $100 billion a year on bottled water. Bottled water cost in the US alone is 2,000x more than drinking from the tap.
Today, that cost has additional hidden cost such as its environmental cost. Production of the plastic water bottle alone emits large amounts of carbon and consumes 17 million barrels of oil per year which is comparable enough to fuel one million cars for a year. Sadly, a majority of these used up bottled waters dumped in landfills while only a minority are recycled.
Like already mentioned, the federal government and most states have bottled water safety programs, but they don’t instantly assure purity and safety. That’s why if you should still buy a bottled water, check its cap and look for any label that says, “from a community water system” or “from a municipal source.”
These labels simply mean they are derived from the tap. If you can’t find of those labels. Call the bottled water company or the bottled water program in your state or where it was purchased to ask about the source.
It was already discussed that water bottles eventually discharge chemicals into the water as it grows older. This chemical is called phthalate which is known to disrupt hormones such as testosterone. One study discovered that the water stored in plastic and glass bottle for 10 days had been contained with phthalates.
The study suggests that the phthalates originated from the plastic or glass container. There are no regulatory standards limiting phthalates in tap and there is also no legal limits. But, the bottled water industry is still successful in their campaign against FDA’s proposal to set a legal limit for these chemicals.
Bottled water may not be healthier or purer as an alternative to tap water. It also costs more than drinking freely from your tap. Tap water is plainly the more economical and healthier choice because you are assured by the standards of tests and monitoring it undergoes.
Though it is mostly safe, tap water might not be always free from issues. If you live in a countryside community where there is water contamination like pesticide run-off, or if your water source is from an unregulated well, tap water might in that area is definitely not safe. You need to call your state drinking-water program or EPA to know the report and level of contamination of your local water.
If your report shows possible contaminants or health risks, your best solution is to use a home water filter which can do the job that your water supplies failed to do- ensuring safe and pure drinking water.
Water filters are best to have at times when your municipal water is experiencing contamination. They are also designed to work with municipally-treated water. Water filter companies produce high-end water purification technologies that can beat wat municipal water-treatment plants can’t do.
Also drinking filtered water is also more economical than drinking bottled water. Water filters don’t use energy. Filtered water from water filters is all the better option than bottled and tap water.
Jennifer Moran is the author and the social media manager at theberkey.com. She has been working and passionate about writing for over four years. When she isn’t glued to a laptop screen, she spends time playing tennis, practicing yoga, and trying very hard not to sleep in the meditation. You can reach her at jennifer (at) the berkey (dot) com.
Of all the natural resources, water is the most important. It is fundamental to the vital processes in humankind. As the world population increase in multifold, demand for water does the same. There are so much to learn about the world yet we fail to focus on the key elements that keep life for everyone on Earth. Water that could feed the whole world is scarce.
Water capital in the industries is so much in a single production. Take a look. On average, it takes 713 gallons (2,700 L) of water to make a cotton shirt and 2,600 gallons (9,800 L) to make a pair of jeans. Note that cotton crops grown in the field need way more than what these factories could consume to make shirts or jeans. Other than jeans, you like to wear a footwear that consumes more than 4,000 gallons (15,000 L) of water, for instance, a leather loafer. Take note also that it takes so much water to grow a grain to feed a cow of which its skin becomes shoes.
The figures seem less significant than if you would imagine of the world’s ocean or water bodies. These figures seem less important until you’d experience water crisis. Water crisis happens when there’s prolonged water line interruption due to scarcity, leakage or contamination. We need water to satisfy your throat, food, electric power plans, cars, computers, and all those leather loafers and jeans.
In a study published in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers in the University of Twente in the Netherland estimated in detail the scale and pattern of humanity’s water consumption.
Doing this requires patience and determination. Using a high level of spatial resolution, the researchers tabulated all the water from the rainfall and irrigation that are consumed in making goods and services for the global population.
To gain a more significant data, they added in the volume of water necessary to equate the pollution incurred along with the production. They measured an annual average global footprint for years 1995-2005. It’s the most updated ten-year period for the necessary data available.
The result is a substantial figure- 9, 087 billion cubic meters (2,400 trillion gallons) per year. That is an overwhelming volume that is equivalent to the annual flow of the hundred Colorado Rivers.
Agriculture contributes as large as 92% of the global water footprint. This figure added with the percentage of water we allocate for livestock, that is a third of global grain harvest. Livestock and other animal products contribute as much water footprint. For example, the average beef takes 634 gallons (2,400 L) of water to make.
Heavy meat diets contribute twice as much water footprint. This explains why the USA’s average water footprint is twice bigger than the global average because Americans eat 4.5 times more meat than the global average. One of the fascinating findings of the researchers is that a fifth of humanity’s water footprint travels across nation borders. This water is also known as “virtual waters”.
This water is embedded in products that are traded between countries. The ability to externalize water in scarce nations like Israel, Jordan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt is by importing wheat and other thirsty grains. This allows them to secure their scarce water for industrial production and other higher-value uses.
Surprisingly, some water-scarce nations still expert a great deal of virtual water to other countries. The Central Asian nations of the Aral Sea Basin export 96% of the cotton they produce. This is according to the US Department of Agricultural Statistics. Large-scale cotton production in this region caused the Aral Sea, once the world’s fourth largest lake, to lose 80% of its water over the last 50 years. Much of the lake bed became a salty wasteland.
The United States has the world’s biggest exporter of virtual water due to its vast areas of highly productive rainfed cropland. They send millions of tons of grains to countries around the world. The largest virtual water imports come from Yangtze basin in China which produce a wide variety of goods for the US market.
A growing population can still do something in order to live with sufficient water supply and healthy freshwater bodies. The solution that can really make a big impact is by altering diet and buying habits. This lessens water use and water footprints easily.
Corporations are becoming perceptive and mindful of their actions towards water use because they need it as a raw material in their productions. For instance, Unilever has helped tea farmers in Tanzania to use drip irrigation so its Lipton tea bags have a lower water footprint.
A retailer of outdoor apparel called Patagonia has leaped way up than others. They started an advertisement such as “DON’T BUY THIS JACKET.” Its Common Threads Initiative motivate companies and consumers in eco-friendly practices such as reducing, repairing, reusing, recycling and reimagining our world. This is all rooted to help in motivating water stewardship.
More organizations offer practical ways to shrink the size of our water footprints such as the Alliance for Water Efficiency and Meatless Mondays. It is in humanity’s hands-on making an impact to the Earth’s precious waters.
The impacts of population on the quantitative needs of a particular area are related to population density, which is how the population is distributed in that area and the rate of population growth. Population density affects so much of our economy, environment, natural resources, energy requirements, housings, food supply and etc. all these factors and its changes directly affect the sources and availability of our water.
Plainly said, the population is correlated with public water supply as high as 56% is distributed for domestic purposes. The US Geographical Survey reported an average of 179 gallons per capita per day (gpcd) in US in 1995 alone while 101 gpcd for domestic water.
US population in 2000 was 275.6 million. Projections of Population Research Bureau predicted the US population to be 375.8 million by 2025 and 403.7 million by 2050. The bureau also showed that the doubling time from 2000 for the population of US is at its current rate of growth which is about 120 years. This is 51 years for the world and for less developed countries like China in about 36 years. The figures matter to note that 81% of the world’s current population resides in less developed countries.
In the year 2000, the world’s population is 6 billion. It is expected to rise up to 10 billion within the century. Population Reference Bureau said that by 2025, there will be 7.8 billion people in the world. It will reach 9 billion 25 years later.
Less developed countries are perceived to be raging in population growth. More than 90% would take place in this underdeveloped countries. Due to overpopulation, water source is scarce yet highly demanded. If these predictions should be true, there would be water shortages in the next 50 years.
In year 1995, the 1,280 gpcd for all water uses in US was multiplied by the bureau’s estimate of population in 2025. It is enough estimate of water use in that year that would be about 508 billion gallons per day. Although it’s not certain when it comes to population forecast, technological changes and conservation practices could likely reduce the overall per capita water use in future significant increases.
In arid areas in US, large increases in water use may not be possible or sustainable unless water is imported brackish or saline waters are desalinated.
The population has a direct impact both on the water sources and the quality of the water resources. People change the properties of water as they use it in many ways. Water that has been used for several purposes area carried away to water resources become integrated with various chemicals.
Water used in household for drinking, cooking and bathing carry away chemicals into the sewage. Drainage from water applied in agricultural irrigation also brings away chemicals that have been applied to crops to enhance their growth and control weeds and pests. Industries introduce chemicals needed for the manufacture of their products.
The aftermath is posing threats to the environment and public health. Getting rid of these water pollutants is unimaginably difficult. If this is the case, the source is also at risk. The public, the government, the industries and a variety of organizations play a role in resolving this problem.
Modifying the local rate of population increase can alter the impacts of future populations on the amount and quality of water resources. This can be done by reducing the per capita use of water.
This strategy has been used in US. For example, per capita use decreased from 184 gpcd in 1990 to 179 gpcd in 1995 even though the nation’s population increased by 7 percent during that period.
Generally, water-stress is more common in developing nations than in developed and industrialized countries. Between 2000 and 2050, most all of the world’s population growth is projected to take place in developing nations. A reduction of population growth rate in these nations could improve the likelihood of achieving sustainability for their water supplies.
Diarrhea is a repeated bowel movement with characteristic feces which is loose and watery. anyone can have diarrhea yet children are very much susceptible mainly due to the food and drinks that they consume which may be contaminated or spoiled.
Diarrhea occurs when there is a Gastrointestinal Infections (GI) that are caused by pathogenic microorganisms. usually, the culprits are the bacteria, viruses or parasites. too much consumption of high-sugar beverage could also trigger diarrhea.
Diarrhea can also be caused by trouble in digesting certain things, an immune system response to certain foods (food allergy), reaction to medicines, an intestinal disease like inflammatory bowel disease, a problem with how stomach and bowel work such as irritable bowel syndrome or surgery on the stomach or gallbladder.
Viral gastroenteritis, also called stomach flu, is a common cause of diarrhea often resulting to nausea and vomiting. Since it is a virus, it is infectious which can spread through the school, household or child care centers, the symptoms last for just a few days. Kids who can’t get enough fluids can become dehydrated.
One kind of this type is rotavirus infection. It is characterized by explosive watery diarrhea. This type is common during winter and early spring months. Rotavirus vaccine is available for infants. Enterovirus such as coxsackievirus can also cause diarrhea in kids during summer months.
Common villain that cause diarrhea in this category are E. coli, Shigella, Campylobacter, Giardia and Cryptosporidium parasites.
Acute diarrhea is usually caused of viruses, bacteria or parasites. This type is common in children attending daycare and this is usually caused by a virus. Some cases of diarrhea caused by infection are mild which goes away on its own. It is still crucial to prevent dehydration from happening which is excessive loss of bodily fluids due to diarrheal stools.
Chronic diarrhea is due to a disease that causes inflammation of the bowel and/or malabsorption of nutrients. Here are the common causes of chronic diarrhea:
Catching infectious causes of diarrhea have the following risk factors: traveling to foreign countries, attending to child care, swimming in lakes and ponds, fostering home and school, and contacting with sick people at home. Celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) were found to be associated with heredity. First-degree relatives are at greater risk of the disease.
Kids may experience stomach cramps or abdominal pain that lasts a day or abdominal pain that lasts a few days. Kids with viral gastroenteritis often show symptoms such as fever and vomiting then followed by diarrhea.
Diarrhea may be watery or contain blood. Stool may float which may indicate that there is increased fat present in the stool. Diarrhea may also be accompanied by:
Dehydration happens when someone is not able to take in sufficient fluid orally to meet the daily fluid requirement. This is to compensate for the losses in diarrheal stools. When this happens, individuals with diarrhea are at risk for dehydration. Signs of dehydration include:
The doctor can tell if someone is dehydrated and how severely they are dehydrated by examining them. Parents can monitor children for signs of dehydration.
the goal when treating diarrhea is to replace the fluids and electrolytes that were depleted during bowel discharge. Doctors recommend:
Oral rehydration solutions are the best way to rehydrate a child who is able to drink and is not vomiting. Children with mild dehydration can be treated outside of the hospital with special oral rehydration solutions (ORS) that can be purchased at the pharmacy or grocery store.
Patients with more severe diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration may require intravenous fluids (fluids given through a vein in the arm) in the hospital. Although other drinks such as juices, colas, and sports drinks are frequently used, they are not a good substitute for ORS, and can actually worsen diarrhea.
Medications that slow down bowel movements are not recommended in children with acute diarrhea although they may occasionally play a role in children with chronic diarrhea. Antibiotics may be prescribed for children with specific bacterial or parasitic illnesses but in most cases, antibiotics do not change how long diarrhea lasts or its severity.
Probiotics (commercially manufactured tablets or capsules that contain “good bacteria”) may be useful in decreasing the severity of symptoms in the presence of an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the intestines.
In a child who is otherwise healthy, it is very essential to start feeding them their regular diet as soon as possible. Breastfed infants should be nursed normally during episodes of acute gastroenteritis. Formula-fed infants can continue their regular diet and older children should be reintroduced to their regular diet as soon as possible. Older children may avoid dairy initially and try a bland diet consisting of bananas, applesauce, rice, and toast.
Careful hand washing should be practiced by all family members. Especially teach children how to properly wash their hands before eating or before and after certain activities.
Kids may prevent catching diarrhea yet it’s impossible that they may never catch it again. That’s why there are actions that can be done to make it less likely.
Food poisoning can also cause diarrhea in kids. Symptoms may last within 24 hours such as vomiting. Treatment for food poisoning bacteria can be treated the same with treating a diarrheal infection.
Over-the-counter (OTC) antidiarrheal medicines are also available:
Diarrhea can’t be helped. If it leads to complications such as the following, it will be most important to call the doctor if your child:
Total Dissolved Solids or TDS is the total charged mineral content of water. Apart from minerals, it also comprises metals, anions, cations, and inorganic salts such as potassium, sodium, bicarbonates, chloride, and sulfates dissolved in the water. All these impurities are measured using a TDS tester.
A TDS tester gives a qualitative measure of the number of ions in the water but not the nature of relationships of ions. It doesn’t provide insight on the water quality issues in the water such as salty taste, corrosiveness or elevated hardness. Here is the generalized relationship of TDS to water-quality problems:
|Cations with Carbonates
CaCO3, MgCO3, etc.
|Associated with hardness, scale information, bitter taste|
|Cations with Chloride
NaCl, KCl, etc.
|Salty or brackish taste, increased corrosivity|
An increased quantity of TDS is not a health hazard. In fact, it is only a secondary drinking water standard that is regulated because it is more of an aesthetic than a health hazard. Increased TDS amount indicates:
TDS in drinking water originates from natural resources, urban runoffs, sewage, industrial wastewater and chemicals used in the water treatment process. The nature of the piping or hardware to convey the water in the water treatment facilities also contribute to the TDS in the water.
In the US, TDS come from mineral springs, salt deposits, carbonate deposits, seawater intrusion and other sources such as salts from road de-icing, anti-skid materials, drinking water treatment materials, agricultural runoffs, stormwater, point/non-point wastewater discharges.
Municipal water treatment facilities get water mostly in freshwater sources such as streams, rivers, lakes or in underground waters. The quality of the water of these water sources is full of various minerals, ions, and salts. these dissolved solids are a mix of harmful and unharmful chemicals. That is why when this water passes through water treatments these impurities or contaminants are removed. When the water reaches homes, it is already safe for drinking.
Pre-Sedimentation is an area where treatment process starts. The raw water from the water source is delivered to the headworks of water treatment plant to undergo the five major unit water treatment processes. The five major unit processes are discussed subsequently. These processes make water safe to drink.
Chemicals used in this process breaks down naturally occurring organic matter such as decaying leaves and other plant material. One common chemical coagulant used is aluminum sulfate, a primary coagulant. A polymer or organic compounds are added to the water to strengthen primary coagulant bonding chains.
The coagulants are added to the rapid mix unit where turbulent mixing takes place in order to disperse the raw water into the coagulation process. The coagulants create a compression of fine particles into large ones which will then be removed later on through skimming, draining and filtering.
Coagulated water passes through the flocculation process. This process is a slow stirring movement that moves the small particles to form a floc. Here, floc particles and the sediments in the water meet. The meeting between floc and sediments is due to the hydraulic or mechanical mixing. The mixed up of flox and sediments form on the surface of the water, then it will be easier remove them by sedimentation and filtration.
Sedimentation is the removal of suspended solids (particles) that are heavier than the water. The reason behind this is to lessen the particulate load on the filters for the next process. Sedimentation is done by lowering the velocity of the water being treated below the point where it can transport the suspended material. This allows gravitational forces to remove particles that are suspended.
When water becomes still, sediments move toward the bottom of the basin. This process removes 90% of the solids in the water. The clear water on the surface is transported to the filter gallery to get rid of the remaining 10% of the solids.
This time, the water passes from pre-sedimentation building to the filtration facility. But before going to the filtration facility, chlorine is added to start the disinfection process. Disinfection process kills or inactivates most microorganisms present in the water such as bacteria, viruses or parasitic protozoans. Pathogenic organisms are the microscopic “bugs” in the water. They bring waterborne diseases such as giardiasis, typhoid, dysentery, cholera, and gastroenteritis.
After disinfection with chlorine, the water goes through the filtration facility to be filtered that last up to most of the time of the whole water treatment process. Filtration process lets the water pass through a filter material made out of bed of coal, sand or other granular substance to remove any remaining particles not removed during the sedimentation process.
The materials of the filter work like a superb strainer of the remaining particulates. Water treatment plant uses rapid rate multimedia gravity filter beds. When these filters become full of particles, they “backwash”, a procedure that lets the water run backward to release the trapped particles collected in the drain troughs.
The water that is collected from the bottom of the filters is now considered potable. But before it leaves the water treatment plant, a second round of chlorine is added to the water to provide assurance and to serve as the post-disinfection. In addition to chlorine, fluoride is also added. The fluoride in the water helps strengthen the teeth while also preventing decay.
The United States Public Health Service has determined the optimum concentration for fluoride in United States water to be in the range of 0.7 to 1.2 parts per million. e water treatment plants enough fluoride to raise that level to .9 parts per million. The fluoride level is measured daily at the water treatment plant and monthly at the tap to make sure it is sufficient to meet the concentration recommended by USPHS.
TDS is expressed in units of mg per unit volume of water (mg/l) or also referred to as parts per million (ppm). A natural mineral water has a TDS value of 100-200 mg/l. The tap water would also have the same levels of TDS but in areas with a high concentration level of minerals, natural tap water would also be high.
Water filtering technologies such as reverse osmosis, ion exchange, and distillation can reduce TDS level close to zero but active carbon filters can’t filter out TDS. World Health Organization (WHO) asked a panel of testers and came to the following conclusions on the preferable level of TDS in water (mg/l):
Above 1,200 – Unacceptable
1,200-900 – Poor
900-600 – Fair
600-300 – Good
300-less – Excellent
For most distilled mineral water, it has higher TDs which can be just good enough for tap waters. WHO and other institutions that regulate water quality consider values up to 500 mg/l to be safe and 2,000 mg/l is safe for temporary consumption if there’s no available water.
Below 500 mg/l has no scientific evidence that it could have any difference and 2,000 mg/l below has no negative health impact. However, there were no findings to show higher levels of calcium in water have a health impact. TDS level, in this case, is not sufficient to conclude negative impact because TDS meter does not specify different parameters that constitute the final number.
It is also worth noting that higher TDS parameter gives a heavier taste in the water.
A TDS tester shows the number of dissolved solids in the water. The higher the number the more impurities. Water filter companies use this as an argument that you can use TDS tester to reduce that level in your water. They also include the fact that TDS tester is a hassle-free and inexpensive device you have to monitor the TDS in your home water.
On the other hand, real tests measure all possible contaminants in the water. These contaminants are important determinants of the water quality so that they can be subject to sophisticated and expensive labs. Water quality testing is still important yet using a TDS tester might not give you the right information you need.
However, if you do have high TDS content in your water and choose to use a water treatment system, make sure to maintain the system that is according to the instruction of the manufacturer. This includes changing filters regularly.