Buying a filter for your tap water may seem costly up front, but can be cheaper in the long run. The only way to get poisons out of the body is through sweat, breath, urine, and bowel–all four heavily dependent upon water. The safest water may come from isolated aquifers and wells untainted by agriculture or industrial runoff, or excessive natural contaminants. Even though the age and culture in which we live can be detrimental to our health, our technology offers practical solutions to the safe drinking water problem–some not so good, but some are better, even though problematic.
The bottled water industry grows about seven percent yearly from its present worldwide sales, which are between $50 and $100 billion annually.
Since most water is bottled, then sold locally without crossing state lines, it does not fall under the Federal Department of Agriculture regulations. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, in order to be called “spring water,” it has to be collected at the point where water flows naturally to the earth’s surface, or from a borehole that taps into the underground source. Mineral water is taken from a natural spring containing minerals such as salts and sulfur compounds.
An unscientific pH test conducted by this author on local bottled waters revealed them to be at or below desired human alkalinity of around 7.0. When stored for ten weeks or longer, chemicals in the plastic bottles can leech into the water. Pepsi’s Aquafina and Coca-Cola’s Dasani bottled water works out to about 5 cents an ounce; $4 per gallon gasoline equals 3 cents an ounce. With bottled water, you don’t know how long it’s been in the plastic and whether that plastic leaked harmful chemicals into the water. During the distillation process, water is boiled and the condensed vapor then liquefies and is bottled.
But prolonged use of this water leeches minerals from the body, especially if consumed for more than a few weeks. Distilled water is an active absorber, so when it comes into contact with air, it absorbs carbon dioxide, thus making it acidic.
Chemicals like chlorine and pesticides with a boiling point lower than water are often carried over with the vapor and can become concentrated in the final product. Consuming bottled water is a high on-going expense; buying a filter for your already-paid for tap water may seem costly up front, but can be cheaper in the long run. Descriptions of the contaminants that are most commonly found in drinking water (both bottled and tap waters).
NRDC's Test ResultsWaters to WatchWaters Testing Clean Sales of bottled water in this country have exploded in recent years, largely as a result of a public perception of purity driven by advertisements and packaging labels featuring pristine glaciers and crystal-clear mountain springs.
The FDA's rules should apply to all bottled water distributed nationally or within a state, carbonated or not, and bottled water standards must be made at least as strict as those applicable to city tap water supplies. Water bottlers should be required to disclose water source, treatments and other key information as is now required of tap water systems.
A penny-per-bottle fee should be initiated on bottled water to fund testing, regulatory programs, and enforcement at both state and national levels. Ultimately, however, while Americans who choose to buy bottled water deserve the assurance that it is safe, the long-term solution to our drinking water problems is to ensure that safe, clean, good-tasting drinking water comes from our taps.
The Bottom Line: ConclusionsNRDC conducted a four-year review of the bottled water industry and the safety standards that govern it, including a comparison of national bottled water rules with national tap water rules, and independent testing of over 1,000 bottles of water. It also contains trace amounts of chlorine that prevent the spread of anything harmful such as bacterial infections.By contrast, makers of bottled water are only required to undertake monthly testing at source.

More than 6,000 children under age five die each day due to disease riddled water and lack of basic hygiene. When embarking on a healing hydration program, a person shouldn’t have to ingest toxic water that only adds to the problem. But generally speaking, the re-hydrator may want to assume that their source of water contains some kind of toxicity or poison as described in last month’s article.
This demand causes private corporations to buy up municipal water supplies for resale to their own consumers. You may ask whether the bottled water was refrigerated while stored and transported, or whether it was left in the sun or a hot warehouse.
It requires up to 47 million gallons of oil a year to produce up to 1.5 million tons of plastic bottles annually. But bottled water sold in the United States is not necessarily cleaner or safer than most tap water, according to a four-year scientific study recently made public by NRDC.
Those who are particularly concerned about the quality of their tap water can take action by 1) calling their state drinking water program or the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline (800 426-4791) for a list of state certified labs; and 2) purchasing filters certified by NSF International (800 NSF-MARK) to remove the contaminants of special concern to the consumer (NSF certification is not, however, a complete guarantee of safety).
Their conclusion is that there is no assurance that just because water comes out of a bottle it is any cleaner or safer than water from the tap. Once filled and sealed, a bottle of water might remain in storage for months before it is sold.
Water containing man-made pollutants that might not kill you, can still make your life miserable by degrading your body’s functionality. Fresh water has become a very valuable commodity and is becoming humanity’s most coveted resource. Water without minerals can be dangerous because it causes a rapid loss of sodium, potassium and magnesium. Over 80 percent of them are thrown away, so with plastic’s slow decay rate, the majority of all bottles ever produced still exist somewhere in a garbage site or landing place after being thrown out. And in fact, an estimated 25 percent or more of bottled water is really just tap water in a bottle -- sometimes further treated, sometimes not.
These results are provided for information only to assist in deciding what further research is needed, and should not be used as a sole basis for choosing a brand of water or reaching conclusions about the overall quality of the water. She added that most bottled water companies test on a daily basis.Natural bottled mineral water must come from an officially recognised underground spring, be bottled at source and cannot be treated or filtered. Even if your neighborhood is free of natural and man-made pollutants, these contaminants could be in your tap water because upstream pollutants can flow down into your water source. If the bottle doesn’t say, “spring water,” chances are the water came from a municipal water source pretty much like your own. The bottom line is that no matter what the bottled water label says, you never really know what you’re getting. Cooking food in distilled water also pulls minerals out of the food, thus making them less nutritious. While most of the tested waters were found to be of high quality, some brands were contaminated: about one-third of the waters tested contained levels of contamination -- including synthetic organic chemicals, bacteria, and arsenic -- in at least one sample that exceeded allowable limits under either state or bottled water industry standards or guidelines.
And since your local tap water is required to be tested, by law, and those results must be publicly available, there is a greater likelihood that you can verify the safety of your tap water, while you can not verify the compliance of any bottled water. As noted in the text of the reports, the NRDC "snapshot" testing was not complete and not necessarily statistically representative of the quality of all bottles of the waters tested. Accordingly, drinking water is water that is sold for human consumption in sanitary containers and contains no added sweeteners or chemical additives (other than flavors, extracts or essences).

A key NRDC finding is that bottled water regulations are inadequate to assure consumers of either purity or safety, although both the federal government and the states have bottled water safety programs. This bonanza is also fueled by marketing designed to convince the public of bottled water's purity and safety, marketing so successful that people spend from 240 to over 10,000 times more per gallon for bottled water than they typically do for tap water. For further information, review the full report, including Table 2: Selected Contaminants of Potential Concern for Bottled Water, and the summary of test results in Appendix A. Sourced from rivers, boreholes and springs, tap water is treated and put into supply or held via storage reservoirs. At the national level, the Food and Drug Administration is responsible for bottled water safety, but the FDA's rules completely exempt waters that are packaged and sold within the same state, which account for between 60 and 70 percent of all bottled water sold in the United States (roughly one out of five states don't regulate these waters either). Flavors, extracts or essences may be added to drinking water, but they must comprise less than one-percent-by-weight of the final product or the product will be considered a soft drink.
The FDA also exempts carbonated water and seltzer, and fewer than half of the states require carbonated waters to meet their own bottled water standards. And FDA rules allow bottlers to call their product "spring water" even though it may be brought to the surface using a pumped well, and it may be treated with chemicals. A big city using only wells would have to comply with all requirements noted for a surface water-supplied city, except that if its wells were not under the influence of surface water, it currently would not have to disinfect, filter, or test for Cryptosporidium, Giardia, or viruses.
Even when bottled waters are covered by the FDA's rules, they are subject to less rigorous testing and purity standards than those which apply to city tap water (see chart below). But the actual source of water is not always made clear -- some bottled water marketing is misleading, implying the water comes from pristine sources when it does not. A new rule for such groundwater-supplied systems must be issued in 2002, which may require some cities using wells to disinfect or filter and do additional microbial monitoring. For example, bottled water is required to be tested less frequently than city tap water for bacteria and chemical contaminants. Some examples of interesting labels NRDC observed include:"Spring Water" (with a picture of a lake surrounded by mountains on the label) -- Was actually from an industrial parking lot next to a hazardous waste site.
The Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments of 1996 require states, subject to EPA guidelines, to train and certify operators of all public water systems. Similarly, there are no requirements for bottled water to be disinfected or tested for parasites such as cryptosporidium or giardia, unlike the rules for big city tap water systems that use surface water sources. Vals Water -- "Known to Generations in France for its Purity and Agreeable Contribution to Health . Reputed to Help Restore Energy, Vitality, and Combat Fatigue" -- The International Bottled Water Association voluntary code prohibits health claims, but some bottlers still make such claims. Because lead can leach from pipes as water travels from water utilities to home faucets, the EPA set an action level of 15 parts per billion (ppb) in tap water. This means that when lead levels are above 15 ppb in tap water that reaches home faucets, water utilities must treat the water to reduce the lead levels to below 15 ppb.
Based on FDA survey information, bottlers can readily produce bottled water products with lead levels below 5 ppb. This action was consistent with the FDA's goal of reducing consumers' exposure to lead in drinking water to the extent practicable.

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