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 The Berkey. 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.
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