Monday, November 10, 2008
Bottled Water Not So Pure
"The Environmental Working Group tested 10 major bottled-water brands.
Thirty-eight low-level contaminants turned up in the water, with each brand
containing an average of eight chemicals. Disinfection products, caffeine,
Tylenol, nitrate, industrial chemicals, arsenic and bacteria were all
Two brands contained disinfection byproducts at levels that exceeded
California's bottled-water standards, and bottles of Wal-Mart's Sam's Choice
bought in the Bay Area contained trihalomethanes, which have been linked to
cancer and miscarriages.
In fact, the Wal-Mart water and a brand sold on the East Coast by the
Giant supermarket chain were "chemically indistinguishable from tap water."
a.. Los Angeles Times October 15, 2008
a.. JustGetThere.us October 16, 2008
a.. ABC News October 15, 2008
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
The United States sold 2.6 billion cases, not bottles, of bottled
water in 2006, according to Beverage Digest, which equates to U.S. consumers
spending about $15 billion on bottled water in one year. Worldwide sales top
out at more than $35 billion.
However, the market for bottled water may be drying up. Brands like
Aquafina and Poland Spring are now experiencing a sales drought. After
almost a decade of triple and then double-digit growth, sales volume grew
less than 1 percent for the first half of 2008, Beverage Digest reports.
Personally, I feel this is good news. Not only is paying for bottled
water like paying for gravity, but the plastic chemicals leaching out of the
bottles have now been proven highly toxic to your body, and our landfills
are overflowing with plastic bottles that do not biodegrade. Last but not
least, paying premium prices for bottled water, thinking it's more pure than
your local water supply, has also been proven to be a complete fallacy.
The Questionable Safety of Bottled Water
The fact that water is bottled is NOT an assurance of purity. In fact,
about 40 percent of bottled water IS regular tap water, which may or may not
have received any additional treatment.
Most municipal tap water -- though generally far from pure -- must
actually adhere to stricter purity standards than the bottled water
In a previous study, a third of more than 100 bottled water brands
tested for contaminants were found to contain chemicals like arsenic and
carcinogenic compounds at levels exceeding state or industry standards for
municipal water supplies.
Additionally, while the EPA requires large public water supplies to
test for contaminants up to several times a day, the FDA requires private
bottlers to test for contaminants only once a week, once a year, or once
every four years, depending on the contaminant.
Fluoride (a highly toxic bone poison that should be avoided at all
costs) is usually present in both tap water and filtered bottled water. And
the toxic metal antimony (a silvery white metal of medium hardness) has also
been found in many commercially bottled water brands.
Pharmaceutical drugs are now also showing up both in tap water and
bottled water. But at least you can filter most drugs out of your tap water
by installing a good water filter.
But perhaps even worse than some of the above contaminants are the
disinfection byproducts, such as trihalomethanes, which the Environmental
Working Group also found in samples of bottled water.
Water Treatment -- Creating Safe Drinking Water, or Creating Poisons?
Chlorine, chloramines, and chlorine dioxide are some of the more
common disinfection techniques used at water treatment facilities today. The
primary reason for adding chlorine to water is to make it safe to drink by
killing or inactivating harmful microorganisms that cause diseases such as
typhoid, cholera, dysentery, and giardiasis.
Unfortunately, over the years scientists have discovered that
byproducts form when these disinfectants react with natural organic matter
like decaying vegetation in the source water.
The most common disinfectant byproducts formed when chlorine is used
a.. trihalomethanes (THMs)
b.. haloacetic acids (HAAs)
Trihalomethanes include four different chemicals: chloroform,
bromoform, bromodichloromethane, and dibromochloromethane. The EPA regulates
these compounds. The maximum annual average of THMs in your local water
supply cannot exceed 80 ppb (parts-per-billion).
The maximum annual average of HAAs permitted by EPA regulations is 60
Trihalomethanes (THMs) are Cancer Group B carcinogens, meaning they've
been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals. They've also been linked
to reproductive problems in both animals and humans, and human studies
suggest that lifetime consumption of chlorine-treated water can more than
double the risk of bladder and rectal cancers in certain individuals.
One such study found that smoking men who drank chlorinated tap water
for more than 40 years faced double the risk of bladder cancer compared with
smoking men who drank non-chlorinated water.
A second study found that rates for rectal cancers for both sexes
escalated with duration of consumption of chlorinated water. Individuals on
low-fiber diets who also drank chlorinated water for over 40 years more than
doubled their risk for rectal cancer, compared with lifetime drinkers of
Disinfectant byproducts can also wreak havoc with your health even if
you don't ingest the chlorine-treated water. A study published in the
Journal of Environmental Sciences earlier this year found that swimming in a
chlorinated pool presented an unacceptable cancer risk.
They concluded that the cancer risk of trihalomethanes from various
routes in descending order was:
1.. skin exposure while swimming
2.. gastro-intestinal exposure from tap water intake
3.. skin exposure to tap water
4.. gastro-intestinal exposure while swimming
But the cancer risk from skin exposure while swimming was 94.18
percent of the total cancer risk resulting from being exposed to THMs!
THMs formed in chlorinated swimming pools have also been linked to
spontaneous abortion, stillbirths and congenital malformations, even at
Your Healthiest Water Options
Your best bet for ensuring good health (and protecting the
environment), is to filter your own water at home using a reverse osmosis
Do not make the mistake of thinking you can tell if your water is safe
or not by the way it looks, tastes, or smells. Some contaminants in water
are so harmful they're measured in "parts per million," or as in the case of
disinfection byproducts, "parts per billion."
This means that just a drop of these poisons added to several gallons
of water can be harmful to your health.
Keep in mind also that installing a filter to purify your drinking
water alone may not be enough. Since your skin absorbs both water and
chemicals -- as illustrated in the study on swimming pool contamination and
cancer risk mentioned above -- you could still be exposing yourself to
dangerous levels of contaminants when you:
1.. Shower or bathe
2.. Wash your hands
3.. Wash laundry
4.. Rinse fruits and vegetables
5.. Wash dishes, glasses, and other utensils
I have been working on coming up with some solid recommendations for
specific water filtration systems for the past seven years. I continue to do
research. There are many great options out there but I am looking for the
best value, and highest quality, which provides an enormous challenge.
However, I am getting closer, and I'm hopeful to provide a GREAT solution in
the near future as I have finally been able to locate a water expert I can
trust. I found the person who invented the reverse osmosis filter for NASA."