The Safety of Bottled Water
The popularity of bottled water is at record levels these days and many experts are predicting that it will outsell soda in the near future. Yet, many of us are left wondering about the safety of bottled water. While many consider bottled water to be a healthy and safe alternative to alternative packaged drinks, there has been a great deal of media coverage that has questioned whether it should be our first choice. Unfortunately, this is not helped by the myths and misleading stories surrounding bottled water. So, here we will explore the issue a little further.
Is there Cause for Concern?
The predominant reason why bottled water is deemed unsafe is not the water, but the packaging, particularly if it contains, PET or polyethylene terephthalate. This chemical is said to leach from the plastic bottles into the water, compromising its safety.
Fundamentally, bottled water is safer than tap water, since (like municipally sourced tap water) it is federally regulated. Under FDA regulations, the quality and safety of bottled water is comprehensively examined and deemed to meet the EPA standards set for tap water. A study conducted by the Drinking Water Research Foundation documented that as a consequence of distribution systems, manufacturing practices, quality standards and regulations, there is a substantially higher risk from public drinking water supplies compared to bottled water.
This is supported by data from the U.S CDC, which directly attributes 19.5 million cases of acute gastroenteritis each year to consuming tap water. On the other hand, factory tested and sealed bottled water has only been blamed for five cases of illness in the last ten years.
While some companies offer glass or aluminum containers, most water is still in a plastic bottle. The reason for this is that plastic is both strong and lightweight. Almost all of the plastic bottles used in the U.S are made using 100% recyclable PET plastic. This is rigorously tested to ensure that BPA and other chemical phthalates do not leach into the water.
Are Contaminants Present in Bottled Water?
Opponents of bottled water often cite “contaminants” as a reason why bottled water should be avoided. When, the information is more closely examined, this is not actually the case. Although there are substances found in bottled water, they may not actually be classified as contaminants. For example, many brands of bottled water contain fluoride. According to the American Dental Association, fluoride can help to prevent tooth decay. Despite this, some are still wary about fluoride in water, but bottled water brands must comply with the FDA standards for fluoride, adding a maximum of 0.7 mg per liter.
Isn’t Bottled Water Just Packaged Tap Water?
There are a number of different types of bottled water, from purified to spring and mineral water. There are strict FDA guidelines for the handling and identification of each type of bottled water. Purified water must be sourced from a municipal water system and undergo numerous treatments to ensure that it meets the FDA standards. This can involve processes such as distillation, carbon filtration, reverse osmosis, and UV treatment. After treatment, the water is then bottled under stringent sanitary conditions before it is sold to the consumer.
About The Author, Terry Reeh, EcoWater Systems of Nebraska:
With more than 25 years experience in the residential and commercial water treatment space, Terry is a WQA (Water Quality Association) certified water specialist, LEVEL 3, as well as a WQA certified sales representative. Terry currently sits on EcoWater Systems (a Berkshire Hathaway Company) national Peers committee, as a water treatment expert advising other water professionals with less experience on best trade and technology practices. EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is one of the biggest water treatment and water delivery businesses in the state.