What’s in our bottled water – besides water?

by Deena on January 11, 2011

Water BottlesThe Environmental Working Group just recently released its 2011 Bottled Water Scorecard which focuses on answering the following questions for the industry:

  • Where does the water come from?
  • Is it purified and how?
  • Have tests found any contaminants?

Among the ten best-selling brands, nine — Pepsi’s Aquafina, Coca-Cola’s Dasani, Crystal Geyser and six of seven Nestlé brands — don’t answer at least one of those questions.

Since July 2009, when EWG released its groundbreaking Bottled Water Scorecard, documenting the industry’s failure to disclose contaminant scores and other crucial facts about their products, bottled water producers have been under fire from consumer and environmental groups. The Government Accountability Office has taken the industry and the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to task for lax inspection and disclosure practices.

Unlike the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which has jurisdiction over the nation’s drinking water and requires each water utility to make public the results of yearly water quality tests, bottled water companies are under no such requirement from the FDA, which regulates the industry.

In EWG’s latest survey of 173 bottled water products, they found that many brands fill their labels with vague claims of pristine source or perfect purity – but no real facts.  Of the brands surveyed by EWG, more than half failed a basic transparency test.    Interestingly enough  though one of the top performers on the transparency test was Nestle’s Pure Life Purified Water which also lists a specific water source and treatment method on the label and provides a water quality test report upon request.  The other two top transparency performers were Gerber Pure Purified Water and Penta Ultra-Purified Water.

EWG’s recommendation to consumers is to drink filtered tap water.  It’s 1,900 times cheaper than bottled water and helps to decrease the amount of discarded plastic water bottles in our environment.  Not sure what kind of filter to choose?  Carbon filters (pitcher or tap-mounted) are affordable and reduce many common water contaminants.  Angela uses the Brita Water Pitcher at home in her fridge if you want to check it out.

Other little known facts mentioned by EWG:

  • Every 27 hours Americans consume enough bottled water to circle the entire equator with plastic bottles stacked end to end
  • In just one week those bottles would stretch more than halfway to the moon
  • The federal government does not mandate that bottled water be any safer than tap water

To read the latest 2011 Bottled Water Scorecard click here.

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