Posted on Jun 23, 2007 - 02:59 PM
By: Adam Beazley
According to Newsweek, the mayor of San Francisco Gavin Newsom signed an executive order banning the use of any city funds to buy single serving plastic water bottles.
The transportation and distribution, developing the plastic for the water bottles, the cost of the water, has a huge environmental and economic impact. As a consequence of the prolific growth in bottled waters, we in the city feel we have a responsibility to address its cost and its environmental impact. We are looking to eliminate completely all of bottled water consumption supported by city money but also to begin an educational campaign to convey the real cost of bottled water, transported half way around the world. We are looking at a marketing campaign showing bottled water compared to a barrel of oil, that shows it takes far more energy to transport the water than the oil.
Of course the bottled water companies are saying that it’s unfair to single out their products, but when you think about it it does make sense. We already pay to have water in our taps—why should we pay to have the same water repackaged and marketed as “more pure” when it is not?
After an extensive amount of research on bottled water and its “purity” claims, we have found that it is actually not as clean as city tap water. According to a study from the Archives of Family Medicine, a journal of the American Medical Association, researchers compared the bacterial content and fluoride levels of 57 samples of bottled water with tap water from each of Cleveland’s four water treatment plants. The results showed that bottled water did not have the recommended amount of fluorides and they had substantially more bacteria counts than that of the tested tap water.
The reason bottled water has more bacterial and is worse for you is simple—it is only regulated by the FDA, which does not conduct any type of testing. City tap water, on the other hand, is heavily regulated by the EPA which has much stricter standards. According to the NRDC study, “even when bottled waters are covered by FDA’s specific bottled water standards, those rules are weaker in many ways than EPA rules that apply to big city tap water.” For instance, if we compare EPA regulations for tap water to FDA’s bottled water rules: (these examples are quotes from the NRDC report)
- City tap water can have no confirmed E.coli or fecal coliform bacteria. FDA bottled water rules include no such prohibition (a certain amount of any type of coliform bacteria is allowed in bottled water).
- City tap water, from surface water, must be filtered and disinfected. In contrast, there are no federal filtration or disinfection requirements for bottled water.
- Most cities using surface water have had to test for Cryptosporidium or Giardia, two common water pathogens that can cause diarrhea and other intestinal problems, yet bottled water companies do not have to do this.
- City tap water must meet standards for certain important toxic or cancer-causing chemicals, such as phthalate (a chemical that can leach from plastic, including plastic bottles); some in the industry persuaded FDA to exempt bottled water from the regulations regarding these chemicals.
- City water systems must issue annual “right to know” reports telling consumers what is in their water. Bottlers successfully killed a “right to know” requirement for bottled water.
The Natural Resources Defense Council report concluded that; “Therefore, while much tap water is indeed risky, having compared available data, we conclude that there is no assurance that bottled water is any safer than tap water.”
Not only is bottled water bad to drink, but the bottles and there distribution system is horrible for the environment. First, the bottled are made from plastic, which is an oil derivative, thereby contributing to our dependency on foreign oil. Second, the distribution system to transport these bottles all across the world relies heavily on gasoline engines, thereby adding emissions and pollution into the atmosphere. Lastly, the vast majority of plastic bottles do not get recycled—instead, they end up in landfills where they will produce methane and other poisonous gases as they decompose, thereby increasing greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.
Fortunately, there is a solution for those who do not like the taste of tap water. Water filters... Water filters have come a long way, and with the use of reverse osmosis water filters, you can effectively filter out any particulate matter and unwanted chemicals that the tap water has picked up from the pipes on the way to your tap. Even though water filters can be expensive, if you were to add up what you spend on bottled water in a year, you would see how much money you would actually be saving from purchasing a good water filter. Now, if you are going to get a water filter, go with the best and get an Aquasana water filter as they have been consistently highly rated.
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